Age no barrier for Barking man who spent 90th birthday at his Royal Docks cleaning job
PUBLISHED: 17:15 16 January 2020 | UPDATED: 17:32 16 January 2020
Barking man Fred Browne started his 90th birthday like he does most other days – by heading into work at a Royal Docks events venue.
But when he arrived this morning he was surprised to find his colleagues on the Tereza Joanne waiting to celebrate his milestone with him - treating him to a full English breakfast complete with champagne.
He said: "I didn't expect anything like this at all. Although it's my birthday, it was just a normal day going to work - it's just another day to me."
Known for his legendary work ethic and as a beloved "father figure" for the younger workers, Fred has worked on the Tereza Joanne - a former crane barge converted into a floating bar, grill and events venue at King George V Dock - for almost 22 years.
Remarkably, his first day was at the age of 68 - after most people retire.
More than two decades later, he still comes in five mornings a week and has no intention of stopping any time soon.
"It's like being part of the family," he added.
After a long time driving heavy machinery on building sites, Fred spent 17 years as a tool setter at an electronics company until retirement, which he soon decided wasn't for him.
Fred said: "After two weeks of looking out the window at home, I had to find something to do - I couldn't stand doing nothing."
He found a cleaning job at London City Airport before starting on the Tereza Joanne in May 1998.
Fred, who lives on the Thames View estate, has two children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
He's off to see the Only Fools and Horses musical with one of his granddaughters after his colleagues brought him tickets as a birthday present.
Tereza Joanne director Marian Phillips described Fred as "our rock" who "never fails to impress us".
"He has such a great work ethic, he never takes time off and you can set your watch by him.
"He just knows what needs doing - and he's very good at talking to young people about work and what to do, too.
"You haven't got the business without Fred. I've never met anyone like him and don't think I ever will again, I just cherish the fact he's still going."
Marian recalled that Fred started riding a bicycle to work when roadworks prevented him getting there by car.
And when he was forced to take time off before an operation, Fred got fed up with the long wait so paid for private healthcare to get it done sooner so he could go back to work.
"You don't get dedication like that from anyone," Marian said.
"He's very unique."