Bill Hangs Up His Overalls After Thirty Years

Tuesday 1st August, 2017|Category: News

Above image: Toby Lowe Photography

The time has come to bid a sad farewell to Bill, a much-loved member of our team. Bill has worked at the hotel for over thirty years in total, and during this time has played a huge role in helping to refurbish the hotel and to restore the building to its former glory.

Having worked at the hotel for a contractor previously, the opportunity arose eight years ago for the hotel to employ Bill on a full-time basis. Since then, Bill has helped refurbish over 30 bedrooms as well as many function rooms including the magnificent Restaurant, Ballroom, Millbay Suite and Hayward Room. The Duke also maintain the train and boat at West Hoe Fun Park. Each summer, Bill can be found painting these, ready for them to be enjoyed by children over the six-week break and beyond.

Bill fully redecorated our stunning sweeping staircase, which as you can imagine was quite a task with the main staircase spanning three floors! Walter Combstock, Managing Director of The Duke has known Bill for years and has many fond memories of their time spent together, many of them quite amusing. Wally recalls walking past whilst Bill was working on the stairs and hearing a faint chuckle from guests as they marvelled at the magnitude of the staircase in comparison to Bill. However, Bill’s size has never held him back, with the same exact precision applied to every task he takes on. Wally and Bill work closely together on a daily basis, with Wally having a vision for each room and then Bill turning this into a reality. They are a fantastic team!

One area in particular that stands out for Wally is Bill’s reluctance to use technology. He recalls many a time when Bill receives a phone call, which can only be one of three people – his wife, O2 or Wally himself trying to locate Bill. By the time Bill has reached for his phone and put his glasses on, you can guarantee the call has ended!

Bill is loved by everyone in the hotel, both staff and guests and is always smiling. He is humorous and is a familiar friendly face to everyone. Wally fondly recalls Bill making a lovely cup of tea each morning at 11am for the team. Bill is always up for a laugh; however, it is not usually until two minutes later that he joins in, by which time, the topic of conversation has moved on!

Peter Adams, Operations Manager at The Duke fondly recalls the time where Bill hammered a nail into the floorboard, not realising that there was a water pipe below, which resulted in the room flooding! Bill has always gone above and beyond his job role, coming in at weekends to fix an issue and completing every task with extreme precision.

Bill is extremely hard working and dedicated to his job, he is well organised and knows exactly what he will have achieved by the end of each day, a trait that Wally admires. Bill will be missed by everyone at the hotel, in particular Wally, who not only has a working relationship, but has built a strong friendship over the years. The team at the hotel are extremely close, with many working here for several decades, it really does feel like we’re losing a member of the family.

The team surprised Bill today with a gathering to celebrate his time at the hotel. Bill’s wife Lynne was in on the surprise and told Bill that they were coming along to the hotel to meet Wally for lunch. Bill and Lynne have been together for 48 years and can now enjoy their well earned retirement together.

Bill can be seen below, ‘passing the paintbrush’ onto Ian, who has now taken over the role. Bill and Ian have known each other for a long time, in fact, Ian was Bill’s apprentice so it is safe to say that he learnt from the best! Ian has worked closely with Bill over the past three weeks, ensuring he is ready to take over now the time has arrived for Bill to hang up his overalls. We can’t think of a better person than Bill’s apprentice to take the Duke forward.

We wish Bill all the best for the future with many happy years of retirement ahead of him! We will however be seeing more of Bill in the near future as luckily for us, he will be returning to the hotel one day a week!

If you would like to read more about the hotel restoration process from the man himself, Walter Combstock, click here to read our past blog post, ‘Restoration, Walter and many rolls of Wallpaper’.

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