Billy Garioch, the Caledonian Hotel’s longest-serving employee, is to be recognised for nearly five decades of service at today’s unveiling of the restored Princes Street train station clock.
Billy, 64, joined the Caledonian in 1963 when he was 15, taking on various roles over the years before settling in his job as porter.
Bosses at the hotel, where a £24 million transformation was completed after the takeover by Waldorf Astoria, have praised him for his years of dedication and service.
Born in March 1948, in Easter Road, to Ernie and Marie Garioch, Billy, one of four siblings, was brought up in Little France.
He attended Liberton High, where his talent for metalwork was so evident that his teachers told him he should apply for an apprenticeship at Ferranti.
However, because he was 15 at the time, he was too young to begin the apprenticeship. Forced to find a job in the intervening period, he started as a pageboy at the Caledonian in 1963.
Billy found he enjoyed his work so much that he decided not to proceed with the apprenticeship application and a series of appointments in the Caledonian followed.
In 1967, he was transferred to the Caley Bar before being sent up to Inverness a year later to work in the group’s Station Hotel as a cocktail server.
In 1970, he returned to Edinburgh and the Caledonian, marrying Helen, who is also an employee of the hotel.
Billy, a father of two who now has three grandchildren, told the News he “loves coming to work at the Caledonian every day” and has “no regrets” about not pursuing his original plan to apply for an apprenticeship at Ferranti.
“Every day I get unique experiences that I wouldn’t get anywhere else,” he said. “But I believe it’s the people I work with that make the hotel.
“Everyone is very loyal to the Caledonian and they are excited to see the £24m investment and transformation.”
The dedication which Billy has shown to the Caledonian was also praised by his managers.
Willy Blattner, general manager, said: “As a luxury international hotel on one of the most famous streets in the world, it’s important that our guests are warmly welcomed whether on their first visit or a return visit.
“For many, Billy is the first person they speak to on arrival after a long journey.
“His long experience of meeting and greeting, together with the anecdotes he’s able to share, make him a real favourite.
“His memories of the hotel are unique and very personal and help us tell the story of this iconic building’s transformation into the new Caledonian, a Waldorf Astoria hotel.”