Long-serving airport employee looks back on 40 years in the terminals

PUBLISHED: 08:35 24 December 2018

Pat Purkiss is congratulated on her award by John Farrow, customer service & security director. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Pat Purkiss is congratulated on her award by John Farrow, customer service & security director. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Archant

Stansted Airport’s longest serving employee has done it all; from body searching a rock star to going to A&E for a tetanus jab after being bitten by a particularly hostile passenger, her job has never lacked for variety.

Now, to mark her 40th year at the airport, Dunmow resident Pat Purkiss is reflecting on her time in the terminals.

Pat, 60, a resource scheduler, said: “I just don’t know where the time has gone. The years have just flown by.”

In March 1978, at just 19-years-old, Pat started working with the airport’s security team.

“When I started in security there were only 12 people in the team. Now you just look at security, there’s around 1,000 people,” she said.

“When the Queen came in 1991 (for the opening of the new terminal) that was really big for security. I was really happy. I didn’t speak to her but I was close to her. It was a really big thing when we opened the new terminal.”

Pat added: “I used to see loads of celebrities. I have body searched Susie Quatro, she’s really tiny, about 4ft 4. This is going back about 30 years ago now.”

However, it was not just rock ‘n’ toll legends that Pat met, she has also discovered a monkey whilst searching through luggage and been attacked by a passenger.

Pat said: “I went to search a girl covered in leather and chains. She bit and kicked me and I ended up going to A&E and getting a tetanus jab. I didn’t expect it.”

Born in Great Easton, Pat now lives in Dunmow, only a 10-minute drive from work.

“The airport is just one big family. I have seen a lot of people come and go and a lot of changes over the years. Probably the worst bit is getting up at 4am and driving on icy roads,” she said.

As to the best thing about working at the airport? Working on Christmas Day, according to Pat.

“Everyone is in the Christmas spirit and carols are playing in the terminal. I’ll be there again this year.”

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