Back in March 1962 a young Miss Judith Gray started her career at Bletsoes as an Office Junior. 60 years on, Judith Ayres still has a key role within the Bletsoes team as Archivist and Receptionist.
Judith grew up in Titchmarsh and following her time at Thrapston School and a Commercial course at Kettering Technical College, she started working for Bletsoes on 26th March 1962, answering the telephone in the office and assisting in the livestock market. At the time Bletsoes held weekly Tuesday markets with considerable numbers of cattle, sheep and pigs, as well as some Special Sales. In the market, Judith was involved with weighing the sorted sheep and she remembers that the “new” pig building and penning was constructed during those early years.
Judith says the biggest change during her time with Bletsoes has been the advances in technology. There were no calculators in the Market Office until decimalisation in 1971 and the team were not allowed to go home until the Market balanced to a penny, which meant that occasionally Judith didn’t cycle home to Titchmarsh until 7 o’clock on a Tuesday evening.
Judith took a career break in 1977 to concentrate on family life, raise her son James and support her husband Jim with his business. She then returned to Bletsoes in 2001 as a Receptionist, which included helping to run the Market Harborough Building Society branch based within Oakleigh House. As part of her role Judith has greeted many visitors and callers to the office over the decades, with her trademark efficiency. It is however Judith’s role as Archivist, which is arguably her most important role. Bletsoes have retained the records back to when Henry Bletsoe started work at Thrapston in 1881. We are far from a paperless office and have the files relating to property sales, tenancy negotiations, road schemes and utility works and, in more recent decades, option and promotion agreements and many other matters. Recently Judith has been working with some of the younger members of the team on a reorganisation of the archive storage, to improve efficiency and the ease of locating older files.
Judith has witnessed many changes over the last six decades. Back in the 1960’s Henry’s son Tom was running the business and, when Judith started work, his young son Christopher had just returned the previous year to Thrapston, following his apprenticeship at Bruton Knowles in Gloucester. Judith was with the firm when it moved “across the road” from the current Estate Agency office into Oakleigh House, carrying files and furniture across the High Street. Over the years the professional business and team has grown significantly and the Market has changed in many ways, including a variation to the operating days.
The Partners and overall team at Bletsoes are so grateful to Judith for her invaluable knowledge, wisdom, stoic style and ultimately her loyalty to the business. Thank you Judith.
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