MOST people only retire once – but Harold Cook isn’t like most people.

The 82-year-old joined the Orbital’s cleaning team just a week after leaving his job at equipment sterilisation facility Isotron in Eldene and worked morning shifts six days a week for more than a decade.

The punctual pensioner never missed a day of work and became a well-known and well-respected member of the team.

He said: “Out of everyone who applied for the job, I was the only person who turned up, so I got it.

“They lost the keys once a few years ago so I had to climb over the 20ft security fence to get in – difficult when you’re in your 70s!

“I’ve never been on the dole since I started working at 15. I spent two years in the National Service – the name’s Cook so they made me a cook – and that’s how I met my wife.

“I’ve had more bosses during my time here than before I retired the first time.

“There have been a lot of changes in Swindon since I was a kid – much of it was fields, there was no Eldene or Liden or Walcot back then - and the Orbital’s expanded a lot since I started in 2002.

“I’ll definitely miss working here, I’ve enjoyed it, it was the perfect job for me, though it will be nice to relax.”

Centre manager Jamie Turner paid tribute to his oldest employee: “He’s been inspirational to the whole team – he trained 10 people during his time here.

“He’s never missed a day or been ill or late. He didn’t moan, he always had a smile on his face and said good morning to everyone.

“He was always the first one here and opened up the site. People asked where he was because they wanted to see him and have a chat.

“It’s quite impressive for someone of his age to come in so often. If he ever finds himself at a loose end, there’s always work for him here!”

Born in Pinehurst in 1937, Harold has lived in the same house in Park South for the last 58 years with his wife of 62 years Thelma.

He’s retiring to look after her. She said: “I said to him after he left Isotron ‘you won’t want to stay sat at home’ and he agreed, so he looked in the Adver and saw a cleaners job.”

The lifelong Swindon Town fan went to his first match back in the late ‘40s to watch STFC play Cardiff City in the FA Cup in an away game.

His colleagues chipped in to pay for a shirt signed by the players and an invite to a corporate day out at the upcoming Newport County match, where he’ll be given a tour of the ground, take a commemorative photo pitchside with a player, meet STFC legend Phil King and have a photo with the man of the match.