Birketts celebrates as Registry Clerk passes 50-year milestone

18 November 2020

Birketts’ staff are celebrating an incredible work milestone for their longest-serving colleague, Angie Long, who has worked at the firm for 50 years this week.

Starting her career at Birketts on 16 November 1970, Angie is one of three Diocesan Registry Clerks and has held her current position for more than 30 years. During this period she has seen the firm transform from its humble home in Ipswich’s Museum Street to a legal powerhouse across the East of England.

Despite 50 wonderful years with the firm, Angie remembers clearly how resistant she was to her first day at Birketts, having just moved out of London.

Angie explained: “It was the end of the Swinging Sixties and I had just moved to Suffolk from Lambeth where I grew up. I was used to working in Oxford Street and Westminster with all the hustle and bustle. When I moved here I said I did not want to work for a firm of solicitors, too stuffy, I did not want to work in Museum Street, too drab, I did not want to work in an old-fashioned office and I definitely did not want to work anywhere that did not have electric typewriters.

The firm got me an electric typewriter and had not been for Ted Glasgow, I wonder if I would have stayed. Ted worked in litigation, a real old stager from London with an accent to match. Some members of the firm will remember him well. I suppose he made me feel at home.”

Once comfortable at the firm Angie threw herself into life at Birketts, even becoming friendly with some of Ipswich’s most famous names.

Angie explained: “I was the social secretary for several years and organised weekends to various European capitals, trips to top London shows (managing to leave someone behind once at the London Palladium who was waiting for an autograph), cheese and wine parties, home-made hat competitions, day trips and factory tours.

In Ipswich Town’s heyday in the 1970s, many of us went to see the team play and I organised a coach to the semi-final and cup final at Wembley. Bobby Robson used to come to the office, and he was such a nice person and always happy to chat. We could use ITFC’s bar and nightclub and the firm’s private box at Portman Road was always popular.”

Reflecting on her five decades of service, Angie recalled how much had changed since she began – and what had stayed the same.

She said: “When I first came to Birketts there were five partners. My annual salary was £800. Health and safety didn't exist. Equipment and offices were old, there was a telex machine, carbon paper was used for copies of documents, typewriter rubbers for mistakes, a tea and coffee lady who brought drinks to your desk morning and afternoon.

There were garden parties at the home of senior partner, Geoffrey Barnard, every year. The partnership grew, technology arrived, equipment improved, the firm took on new buildings and new staff, benefit packages came along, holidays became longer, working conditions improved and of course the firm did eventually move to new premises! Technology has seen the biggest change but in all my 50 years, the same core strengths of unity and care remain.”

James Dinwiddy, Partner in Birketts’ Private Client Team, was one of many colleagues to wish her well on the 50th anniversary.

James said: “Angie has been an invaluable element of Birketts’ relationship with the St Edmundsbury Diocese for an extraordinarily long time. On Monday I joined a Zoom call to celebrate her anniversary with her friend and Diocesan Registrar/solicitor James Hall and a number of Diocese colleagues and erstwhile Birketts’ partners, reminiscing about handwritten Diocesan judgements, early electric typewriters and hot pants.

I have no doubt Angie will continue with her record breaking service to Birketts for some time to come, and thank her for all her hard work.”