A WILTSHIRE electrical engineer has been recognised by his bosses for spending 40 years in the industry.

Paul French is a senior engineering manager for UK Power Networks Services and originally hails from Stanford in the Vale near Faringdon.

The company manages private energy networks and delivers major national electricity infrastructure projects. Once employees have given 40 years of continuous service, they are invited to join a special 40-plus club.

Paul's latest project has been helping with the electrification work on Great Western Railway routes.

The 56-year-old said: “I have enjoyed my work. It doesn’t feel like 40 years and the time has flown by. I have remained an operational engineer throughout my career.

"I like to make a positive difference to people’s lives and our electrification works achieve that. My own train journey from Didcot to London was 50 minutes and now it’s 35 minutes.”

A memorable highlight was restoring electricity supplies to homes in the aftermath of the 1987 hurricane.

Paul said: “I was one of few people blissfully unaware of the hurricane. I jumped in my car and couldn’t get more than 100 yards down the road and realised something was amiss.

"Someone picked me up in a van and from that moment onwards we worked 18-hour days solidly for weeks to unpick the chaos in that part of East Sussex, where I was living at the time. We didn’t need to travel far to find work.

“After two weeks, people still welcomed us with cups of tea and open arms as we worked to restore electricity supplies and I have fond memories of that time.”

Paul joined the industry as an apprentice at 16 and qualified as an overhead linesperson. He completed a Higher National Certificate in electrical and electronic engineering then became an operational engineer overseeing maintenance, construction projects and repairs.

In the 1990s, he moved from the electricity distribution network to the commercial arm of the business, working on a project to enhance power supplies to London Underground, particularly the Northern Line.

UK Power Networks chief executive Basil Scarsella said: "We take this opportunity to recognise the commitment and dedication of our longest-serving employees, who have served their local communities for decades.

"The last 18 months have been an unprecedented time and I am grateful to all of our staff for their key role in keeping power flowing and enabling people to go about their daily lives, while preparing the networks for an exciting low carbon future.”