ITM Nelson staff say farewell to long-serving employee Graham Dougherty, centre with bike, last week. Photo: Simon Bloomberg

ITM’s special worker retires

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One of ITM Nelson’s most special employees got on his bike last week and rode out of the Pascoe St yard for the last time, signalling the end of more than 30 years of dedicated service to the building supply company.

In fact, Graham Dougherty, 70, has been working there so long, nobody knows exactly when he started. And Graham himself, who is special needs and was placed in the position by IHC, isn’t sure either although ITM Nelson’s group sales manager and director Rodney Wolf thinks “it’s about 30 years”.

“When I came here in 1999, he was already here from the previous owner from 1992 and he was here before that, so it’s got to close to 30 years,” Rod says. “He tells everyone he’s only been here 25 years but it’s longer than that.”

But what Rod does know is that Graham “is good at what he does – he’s real toiler”.

“He’s been cutting and pointing pegs and cleaning up around the site – he has a place in our business. Some of the previous managers here have not been that keen on him because they thought he was a health and safety risk but he’s not.

“He’s been doing what he has been doing for over 30 years and he’s very capable of operating machinery. He’s very accurate and meticulous and he’s safe – it’s a shame the new health and safety laws have made it hard for special needs workers like Graham to find work.”

Site manager Dean Hamilton says Graham was well known for inventing contraptions, including a stand for sweeping up rubbish and his own shelter for enjoying smoko outdoors. He planted his own little vegetable garden on-site and “did a little dance when he got his pay cheque each week”.

Dean says Graham was also very dedicated and rarely missed a day in the last 20 years.

“I can only remember one day he didn’t arrive on time and we got pretty worried – we thought he might have been knocked off his bike. So we went around to his place and we found him watching the Olympics on television – he was so excited by it he forgot about work.”

ITM purchased Graham a new commuter bike from Village Cycles and a 20-movie pass for his retirement present.