Roberta retires after 44 years of service

After 44 years of service, Lisburn woman Roberta Flynn is retiring from Sodexo, one of Northern Ireland's biggest on-site services providers, following 44 years of service.

Pictured at the retirement lunch on Thursday 2 February at Windsor Park Belfast for Roberta Flynn (4th from left) who worked for Sodexo NI for 44 years were and colleagues.

As the company’s longest serving employee in Ireland to date, Roberta was presented with flowers and gifts by Sean Haley, regional chair of Sodexo UK and Ireland and country president Margot Slattery at a company event the day before.

On Thursday, February 2, it was the turn of her work colleagues in the company’s Belfast office to celebrate her retirement with a champagne reception, lunch and more flowers and gifts at Windsor Park in Belfast.

Roberta said: “I’ve been with Sodexo for almost as long as I’ve been married, so the company is like a second family to me.”

At the time of her retirement, Roberta was the Temporary Staffing Solutions Manager and based in the Belfast office. The company employs over 500 people in Northern Ireland, based in staff restaurants on client sites so whenever a chef or other employee was out sick or on holidays, it was her job to organise cover while they were away.

Roberta joined the company in August 1972, as a part-time assistant cook in the staff restaurant in Barbour Threads at Hilden Mill in Lisburn.

Roberta never missed a day’s work, even during the height of the Troubles, and was involved in several high-profile VIP events throughout her career, including the official opening of the Police Support Unit at RAF Aldergrove and getting to meet Prince Charles. Roberta said, “Northern Ireland Electricity was our client back then and it was a huge undertaking as literally every single piece of food and equipment had to be brought across to the island by ferry for the VIP guest event. It was not the place to discover that you’d forgotten to pack some vital ingredient.”

Roberta’s colleagues were full of praise for her warmth and professionalism. Account manager Alaistair Armstrong said, “Roberta is a very caring, thoughtful and kind lady who looked out for anyone who came into her orbit and saw them through good times and bad. She was a true caterer, hospitality is in her blood, we’re going to miss her warm welcome every day.”

Anne Magill, business development manager for Sodexo, added, “Her timing was always perfect, when you hit that patch in the afternoon where you’re beginning to wane a bit, Roberta would appear with a cuppa and what she called a ‘Scooby snack’ to pep you up for the rest of the day. It’s going to be such a void without her.”

Margot Slattery, country president, Sodexo Ireland, said,” I first met Roberta about twenty years ago, after I joined the company, but got to know her even better over the last ten years, travelling and working between our offices in Belfast, Dublin and Cork. There was always a warm welcome on arrival, followed by a reviving cup of tea, along with endless help and support any time it was needed. I know she will be greatly missed and I wish her the very best in her well-deserved retirement.”

Sodexo is a leading provider of on-site services to clients in government, business and industry, education, financial and healthcare. It employs 2,200 staff based in over 200 locations on the island of Ireland.