5 minutes with…Debbie Burbidge

What makes Carpenter Box stand out from the rest is our people and their commitment to having great relationships with their clients, and with each other.

Meet Debbie Burbidge, an Administrator for our Business Service Team based in Worthing. Debbie is the longest standing employee here at Carpenter Box and last month marked an impressive 45 year milestone with the firm! So we recently caught up with her for a trip down memory lane – and to find out what it is about Carpenter Box that’s earned her the title of longest serving team member.

Congratulations Debbie! Tell us how you got the job working for Carpenter Box?

I went to College for two years where I achieved a certificate in Office Studies and various O levels. I was working as a mushroom picker at Lyons Farm, when I came across a tiny advert for a Receptionist / admin person at a small Accountancy firm. I phoned up and had an interview with one of the Partners at the time, John Gilbey, later that day. I received a telephone call a short while later, was offered the position and started within a few days. The rest, as they say, is history!

You must have seen a lot of changes over the years! Are there any moments that have stood out for you?

When I first started we had second hand manual typewriters ( I had been using electric ones at college) and you had to make a carbon copy (headed paper attached to an ink based sheet backed with another flimsy sheet of paper). All tax returns were filled out by hand on original forms and then each of these were photocopied. We had a modern photocopier but nothing like the ones today. 

There were only 5 partners when I started: Ken Mashford who was the Senior Partner, John Gilbey, Fred Webber, Roger Williams and Bill Roberts and around 15 staff. The partners filled out a lot the tax returns themselves. They also dictated all letters on a really old fashioned Dictaphone that used disc belts (some of you will remember these!). In those days there was no standard templates. We had four part time audio typists and a person who typed the accounts.

One of the moments that stood out for me was when we moved into new offices at Grafton Road. It was a building that had storage heating, the previous building had only little electric heaters in each room. I came in one morning to find that we had had a fire at the back of the building which mainly hit the room that I worked in. My computer was a total meltdown and everything was black. Amazingly the pen that I used was still ok and I still use it today! There were files on the back wall which luckily did not go up in flames but were very soggy due to the firemen extinguishing the fire and had to be professionally dried out!

What do you like most about working here?

I enjoy working here because everyone is so friendly, and my role is very varied. I first worked with Angela on Reception not long after I started so I was really pleased when she re-joined the firm several years later.

What advice would you give to someone starting their first day at Carpenter Box?

I would say do not hesitate to ask someone if you are unsure of anything. Give yourself time to adjust to your new environment as quite often what seems daunting at first soon becomes “a piece of cake”. And always have a smile on your face.

Outside of work, what keeps you busy?

Debbie having a blast over the years!

I live with my mum so looking after her and the house takes up a good deal of time. I also enjoy walking Willow our Westie. I like baking cakes and make my own bread. I taught myself how to make sugar flowers (delicate flowers like roses, carnations and lilies from a sugar paste) which is very time consuming and you need a lot of patience. I enjoy taking photos, reading or listening to audio books (Harry Potter, Jane Eyre and romances are my favourites). I also enjoy doing jigsaws and crafty bits and bobs. One addiction that I have is the app game, Candy Crush. Although sometimes I can be stuck on a level for over two weeks, I found it a very good way to relax during the pandemic!

Debbie is quite often our resident photographer at social events and always camera ready to get the best party photos. So here are some of our favourite snaps of her from over the years at various Christmas parties and our legendary Summer Balls!

Well, we think you’re marvellous Debbie, and you’ve certainly brightened the office up with your smiles and colourful outfits over the years. Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication and congratulations on 45 years!

We are always looking for people to join Carpenter Box who share our commitment to providing clients with an outstanding level of service. Visit our careers page to see the latest opportunities.