An ambassador for a leading Cumbrian engineering firm is retiring after 23 years with the company.
Irene McMillan joined REACT Engineering as an administrator and receptionist at its Cleator Moor office, and over the years her job has grown into marketing and recruitment and Irene quickly built up strong relationships in the community as well as within the business.
Liaising with local schools and colleges both for REACT and for the REACT Foundation, Irene has organised a programme of events and initiatives over the years to inspire thousands of young people about opportunities, especially in science and engineering.
REACT managing director Phil Redfern said: “Irene embodies everything that REACT stands for – she is positive, proactive, really cares about what she does, and makes a massive positive difference.
“Irene is the first contact everyone who has worked for REACT over the years has had with the company, including me, and she has always been professional and caring and helps set the tone of what REACT is about.
“Everyone at REACT past and present wishes Irene a long and very happy retirement.”
Irene, 62, from Dalry, Ayrshire, moved to Whitehaven in 1987 when her husband Gus took a job with the then UKAEA Constabulary, later to become the Civil Nuclear Constabulary.
Irene said: “I have loved my time at REACT. It has been a great company to work for and wonderful to see it grow into the very successful business it is today while still retaining that family feel.
“It’s the variety of the work I have enjoyed so much. Working with the kids and the schools has been very rewarding.
“All the primary schools and secondary schools in West Cumbria are fabulous and when you see the kids get so excited about some of the programmes and activities we do it is great.”
Pete Woolaghan, chairman of the REACT Foundation, said: “Irene has been an inspiration to work alongside in the foundation.
“She gives life to our ideas and makes them real on the ground through a combination of determined creativity, resilience and relationships with people that is quite unique.
“Such is her commitment to the work we do with young people in West Cumbria I’m sure we will see her again in a voluntary capacity at some point.
“We are going to miss her terribly but wish her the very best in retirement.”
Irene is looking forward to spending more time with family and friends, including grandchildren Chloe, 15, and one-year-old Kit.
A good cook and baker, she is keen to explore cheesemaking, and is also going to buy a pair of walking boots to see more of the great outdoors.
When restrictions ease she also hopes she and Gus will be able to enjoy travelling abroad to celebrate her retirement.
“In the meantime it will have to be cocktails on the deckchair in the garden!” she said.