A FORMER director of several Wyre Forest carpet firms has retired from the industry after nearly 59 years.

Jim Bennett, 80, of Burnthorne Lane, Dunley, was a major figure in the carpet trade during his long career, serving as a director at both Adam Carpets and former company, Quayle and Tranter.

He said: “It has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride being in the carpet industry. When I went into the trade in 1951, there were over 30 carpet manufacturers of one size or another in or around Kidderminster.

“Now there is only a handful. It is sad that so many wonderful people have lost their jobs and I can only say I have been extremely lucky to have survived for so long to enjoy what is still a pretty good trade.”

After leaving King Charles I School in 1945, Mr Bennett started work the next day at the family business, Albert Bennett & Sons, a well-known local carriage, taxi and garage company.

He started working in the carpet trade in 1951 at Tomkinsons Carpets at the invitation of Geoffrey Tomkinson, later Sir Geoffrey Tomkinson.

He was a showroom manager and then the company’s representative in the north of England before successfully applying for the position of sales manager at Quayle and Tranter in 1960.

Next, he worked his way up to managing director and celebrated the company winning the prestigious Queen’s Award To Industry in 1969.

This recognised the success of its export sales with, at one point, 18 per cent of all UK carpets exported to Japan manufactured by the firm.

The company went into receivership in 1979, however and Mr Bennett later helped launch Quayle 1980, where he was managing director.

Mr Bennett then joined Adam Carpets as sales director in 1983 and worked there as a director until 2001.

Until recently, he worked as a part-time consultant at Carpets of Kidderminster, which has now gone into administration.

Among his other achievements, Mr Bennett was a former captain of the old Kidderminster rugby club, chairman and twice president of Kidderminster Carolians Rugby Football Club and president of both Worcestershire and Herefordshire Rugby Football Union (RFU) and the North Midlands RFU.