IN A career spanning 38 years, John Tibbles has gone from working on bashed-up Morris Minors to cars with the computer power to put a rocket on the moon.

IN A career spanning 38 years, John Tibbles has gone from working on bashed-up Morris Minors to cars with the computer power to put a rocket on the moon.

He was joined by friends and colleagues from Gladwins Body Repairs on Friday to mark the end of a career that began on May 1 1972.

Starting at Gladwins at the age of 26, John took over in the parts department on a temporary basis, but impressed his boss Derek Gladwin so much that he was offered a pay rise to stay - and has been there 38 years.

"I didn't know that I would stay this long when I started out. I didn't plan to work in the parts department, but then sometimes things evolve in life, and I've been very fortunate," said John, 64.

He said he had seen big changes in the cars and the company during his four decades in the job, as Gladwins has grown from 20 employees at its Warboys base to a business of more than 200 across the region.

"When I started we didn't have computer systems, you just had to see what was wrong with the car," said John. "These days some car manufacturers boast that their cars have more computer power than the first rocket on the moon.

"The cars have got better - they last longer and are more reliable, but you can't always take them to your local mechanic. It's all getting more specialised."

When John started out, he dealt with a smaller range of cars, working on Morris Minors, Hillmans and Sunbeams.

"We didn't have the internet to order parts, and not many suppliers delivered, so I would go out in the mornings to collect everything for the week's jobs. It's all different now, as we work on so many types of cars," he said.

Despite the technological changes, John said he still gets the same enjoyment from the job as when he started.

"I think we are a bit like undertakers - we make a living from other people's misfortune, when their car needs repairing. But at least we are able to fix it for them, and that's where the satisfaction comes from.

"I've been very lucky. Back when I started there were jobs everywhere - you could get a job on a farm and if you didn't like it, you jumped the dyke and got a job on the next farm. Things are very different nowadays, and I know I've been lucky."

Harvey Death, managing director at Gladwins, thanked John for his 38 years of hard work. He said: "John has been a role model in his attitude and application to all his duties at Gladwins. He is a real character who happily shared his knowledge and experiences with all. On behalf of all the staff, I would like to wish him a long and happy retirement."