Pensioner, 93, has worked for same firm for 80 years

John Burns who is believed to be the world's longest-serving employee. Picture: Cascade
John Burns who is believed to be the world's longest-serving employee. Picture: Cascade
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A PENSIONER has laid claim to being the world’s longest-serving employee – after clocking up almost 80 years at the same Edinburgh firm.

John Burns, 93, started working as an office messenger for Edinburgh law firm Wilson Terris when he was 14 in 1936 - and still works there hand-delivering legal documents

Mr Burns says his relentless work ethic is fuelled by two hearty bowls of porridge a day.

When he started work, Edward VIII had just abdicated the throne to marry Wallis Simpson, while Billy Butlin opened his first holiday park at Skegness. He started work straight from school at the age of 14, after passing a maths-based aptitude test.

Back then he earned 15 shillings a week - but half of it went on his training.

During his long service with what is now TC Young Wilson Terris, he has held a variety of roles including office messenger, cashier and now legal messenger.

His current job sees him hand-deliver legal documents, bound in ribbon, around the Court of Session.

Dashing between his firm’s office in George Street and up The Mound to the court helps keep him fit.

He has only ever taken time off to serve as a radio operator with the RAF during the Second World War.

“I dread the thought of giving up my job,” said John.

“If I didn’t work I would spend my days still going up to court to meet the friends I have made there. I suppose you could say I’m too old to retire.”

his bosses struggle to get him to take holidays. They had to put him on a four-day week last month to make up for the holidays he never takes.

But John says he’s “even at a loss on the Fridays I have to take off work now”.

In addition to his daily walks around the streets of Edinburgh, John credits his no-nonsense diet with keeping him trim.

He tucks into two plates of home-made porridge every day - one in the morning and another at supper time.

He said: “I love porridge. It sets me up for the day and gives me a good night’s sleep, too.”

Grant Knight, of TC Young Wilson Terris, has been John’s boss since 1989. He’s delighted to have such a long-serving member of staff at the firm. “We believe John is the world’s longest-serving employee,” he said.

“Life wouldn’t be the same around here without him.”