A PORTER has bid a fond farewell to traders in Dewsbury after two decades of helping to keep the market running smoothly.
Thomas Swords has been a friendly face for stallholders and shoppers alike from the moment the gates open each morning.
But after 20 years on the market, the 65-year-old is looking forward to a retirement filled with travel, music and reading.
Mr Swords, who became a porter in November 1990, said: “We keep the market tidy, look after the toilets and do any other jobs which may arise. There are long hours and it can be hard work, but I’ve had a lot of fun.
“It’s got a bit easier over the years with more staff and help on the market. With the recent refurbishment it’s a lot brighter, but really the market has not changed a great deal.”
While he might not miss helping to clear snow from the market in winter, Mr Swords said he had many happy memories.
He said: “We’ve had special events and celebrations for colleagues retiring. We’ve been a very happy crew.
“I’ve been pleased with the friendship and generosity of traders and market staff, not only in Dewsbury but at other markets. I spent several very happy years at Heckmondwike Market. Colleagues and traders were also very supportive when my mother died suddenly in 1998 and I shall always remember that support.”
Dewsbury Market Traders’ Association and Kirklees Council’s market team both held collections and meals for Mr Swords, the market’s longest serving porter.
Association president Trish Makepeace said: “Thomas was very highly regarded on the market. He was always the perfect gentleman. It’s a credit to him that market traders had a collection because normally they don’t collect for Kirklees employees.”
Mr Swords, of Ashworth Green, Dewsbury, said: “My colleagues have been very good to me. I’ve been really spoiled. I would like to thank them all very much.”