Ray Hayes talks to workingwise.co.uk about his working life, from working in a bakery to the army to his current job at Pizza Hut where, at the age of 70, he has just completed 10 years.
Ray Hayes is 70, but he’s not got any plans to retire just yet. Ray works at Pizza Hut in Speke, preparing the food for the day, cutting up the vegetables and setting up the buffet. He calls himself ‘the man who does everything’.
Ray works alongside his wife and has been there for 10 years [he is pictured getting his 10-year certificate], working four hours a day at first and now two. His wife Michelle has been there longer. He clearly loves the job and says he gets bored sitting around doing nothing. “It keeps my mind occupied,” he states, adding that he had been quite down about retiring from his previous job as a pest controller when his time came at 60. “I needed a job. The council could have asked me to do any job they wanted,” he says. Ray has always been able to turn his hand to any role.
He had been working for the local authority in Liverpool for 30 years in various roles until he turned 60 and before that had done everything from bricklaying to tiling when he came out of the army.
His working life has been very varied. He started at Cousins Confectioners from the age of 16, using the baking and cake decorating skills his mum had taught him and his six siblings. He then moved to a slaughterhouse before joining the army. It was the 1970s and Ray was posted to Gibraltar for eight months and then Northern Ireland for 18 months where his role involved guarding the bomb disposal unit. He was stationed in the Bogside in Londonderry. It was the height of The Troubles. He says: “If anyone says it wasn’t frightening they’d be lying. You just got used to it and kept your head down.”
He was moved from Northern Ireland to Cambridge and left the army after five years because he wanted to start a family. He has two children, now grown up, and Michelle has one from a previous relationship. Between them they have five grandchildren. All live nearby.
Ray clearly loves having something productive to do. He was put on furlough from Pizza Hut during Covid and says he was very keen to get back. He gets on well with his colleagues – most, except his manager Joe, are in their teens and 20s. He jokes about trying to get them off their phones. He adds that Michelle is like a mum to them all.
Ray sees no reason why he shouldn’t keep on working and is really happy that Pizza Hut has kept him on. “I’ll keep going until they don’t want me,” he says. “Older people need an opportunity to show what we can do. If you are good enough to do the job you should still be there.”
*Pizza Hut is a proud sponsor of National Older Workers Week.