Four decades of dedication to island
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.