A man with Down’s syndrome has been celebrating working for the same wine merchants for 20 years.William Westbrooke, 47, has worked at The Wine Company in Colchester for the past two decades, supported in recent years by service provider Essex Cares’ Linked Employment service, which places adults with disabilities in jobs and supports them in their role.

Employment adviser Jonathan Smith explained that William is the only Linked Employment service user to have worked in the same job for such a long time. williamwestbrooke“William originally started at the company on a work experience programme for 15 hours a week, undertaking tasks like preparing boxes for distribution and replenishing stock on the shop floor.“He was so successful and demonstrated such a commitment to the company that he was given the chance to become a paid warehouse assistant. This was a huge boost to his confidence and even came with extra responsibilities such as bagging ice, clearing the yard and ensuring cleanliness in the warehouse.“His job helps him feel an equal part of society and reaching his 20-year anniversary is a huge achievement for him.”William said he enjoys his job and hopes to be a fixture at the warehouse for the next 20 years. “I like it here because I get out and about and work with lots of people,” he said.  “I know a lot about wine now – my favourite is red wine from Italy or Spain. Luckily I’ve only broken one bottle in 20 years!”

Mark Cronshaw, general manager of The Wine Company, added that William is a vital part of life at the firm. “I’m so proud of him,” he said. “He is a very valuable employee – he’s full of enthusiasm and is as diligent, hardworking and honest as any member of my team. He is a character who we all love having around.”