Mildenhall travel agent Kelly Brooks heads into retirement after 43 years
When Kelly Brooks started her career, James Callaghan was Prime Minister.
She has since seen a further seven Prime Ministers in office, fashion trends come and go (and return, in some cases) and the explosion of new technology transform the way we live.
But one thing has remained constant throughout: when Mildenhall residents have wanted to book a holiday, travel agent Kelly has been there to help.
Now Kelly, who celebrates her 60th birthday on Monday, has said goodbye to customers, colleagues and holiday brochures after retiring on Wednesday.
Her career started more than 43 years ago on August 11, 1977, when a 16-year-old Kelly started her first job at Fairtax Travel, on RAF Lakenheath.
After learning the tools of the trade, she moved to John Hilary Travel, in Mildenhall town centre – with an advertisement from its opening in 1983 featuring manager Kelly as the main picture.
Kelly went on to work at A T Mays, Carlson Worldchoice and Thomas Cook.
When Thomas Cook ceased trading in September 2019, all the Mildenhall branch employees were offered jobs with Premier Travel.
On Wednesday, Bury Free Press photographer Mark Westley surprised Kelly on her last day.
Kelly said: “It is all I have ever known, from the day I left school, and it has been just lovely. Being a travel agent is the best job in the world. It’s rewarding, every day is different and I work with amazing people.”
Kelly said she would miss her ‘work family’, including manager Amanda Heap, and customers, but was looking forward to spending more time with her family, husband Tony, son Mark and daughter Hannah.
“I’ve always looked forward to going to work. My family say I go to work to socialise and I do,” added Kelly.
Her daughter Hannah said: “Everyone knows her in Mildenhall.”