Four decades of ded­i­ca­tion to is­land

The Oban Times - - News -

MIKE Beck­ett, 66, from Tober­mory, is re­tir­ing from his role as BT Open­reach en­gi­neer on the is­land af­ter nearly 42 years.

Mr Beck­ett has seen many changes since he started as an ap­pren­tice in Glas­gow in 1974, from the roll- out of dig­i­tal exchanges to ar­rival of su­perfast broad­band ear­lier this year.

Mr Beck­ett started his work­ing life as an ap­pren­tice ar­chi­tect but de­cided engi­neer­ing ap­pealed more. He met his wife, Heather, in Glas­gow in 1978. Born on Mull, Heather was study­ing in Glas­gow. Spot­ting an ad­vert in The Oban Times to re­place a re­tir­ing en­gi­neer on the is­land, Mr Beck­ett ap­plied and the cou­ple moved to Mull in 1986.

They have three chil­dren, two of whom are now in Glas­gow with the third still with them in Tober­mory. They also have two grand­chil­dren in Glas­gow.

Mr Beck­ett has played a vi­tal role in his com­mu­nity for 30 years, keep­ing homes and busi­nesses con­nected, of­ten work­ing in poor weather con­di­tions and on his own.

He’s even helped re­con­nect celebri­ties who reg­u­larly visit the is­land.

He re­called: ‘On a dark win­ter night I ar­rived at a cus­tomer’s home with a faulty phone and was in­vited in for tea and food. It was only af­ter­wards I re­alised it was the rock star Phil Collins, who had a hol­i­day home at Pen­nyghael.

‘I’ve trav­elled to many is­lands around Scot­land, in­clud­ing Coll, Tiree, Colon­say, Gometrra and Ulva. It’s been great work­ing here. Ev­ery day is dif­fer­ent. The tech­nol­ogy’s changed so much from when I first started out. It’s been ex­cit­ing to see the sub­sea ca­bles come ashore and this year con­nect­ing cus­tomers to su­perfast broad­band speeds. Peo­ple love it.’

Mr Beck­ett is look­ing for­ward to spend­ing more time with his fam­ily and in his gar­den but doesn’t think he’ll en­tirely es­cape his old role.

‘ When you are on an is­land, things work a bit dif­fer­ently.

‘I’ve had peo­ple call my house, visit my home and grab me in the pub to talk about their phone and broad­band.

‘But I’ve got to work in one of the most beau­ti­ful places in the world. When you’re up a tele­graph pole and look­ing across the sea, who could ask for more?’

Fraser Row­berry, gen­eral man­ager of Open­reach Scot­land, said: ‘Mike has played an im­por­tant role in the lives of peo­ple on Mull, and the sur­round­ing area for many years.’

Lo­cal man Dou­glas Mal­colm is tak­ing over from Mike.

Mike Beck­ett.

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