Two of Cornish Mutual’s longest-serving employees are celebrating their retirements – after clocking up 90 years of service between them.
Joan Ball and Jeff Kincaid both joined the insurance company as 17-year-olds and have been there continuously ever since. Farmer’s daughter Joan, now 61, and Jeff, who is retiring on his 64th birthday in November, now consider themselves part of Cornwall’s farming community.
Joan started out on the Cornish Mutual switchboard in October 1975 and took on a number of different roles until she landed her dream job in 2002 on the Field Force team, the insurance firm’s “boots on the ground”.
Jeff thought he had a temporary job when he joined the company in May 1973, but after rapid promotion he became part of the Field Force in 1986 and knew he had a job for life.
Their days were spent visiting Members’ farms and rural businesses across mid Cornwall, as well as working from the company’s office at Truro Livestock Market, advising on insurance.
Joan said: “Being part of the mid Cornwall farming community has been such a huge part of my life and our Members have become my friends. Being from an agricultural background means I’ve always been able to relate to farmers and the challenges they face.
“My proudest moment was joining the Field Force. From the day I joined Cornish Mutual I knew that was what I wanted to do, but it took me 26 years to achieve it.”
She says one of her most memorable times was following the great storm of 1987, when she worked by oil lamp through the weekend to deal with Members’ claims.
“The destruction was devastating, it was a terrible time,” remembers Joan. “As an insurance company, we were a little bit like an emergency service, helping businesses get back on their feet as quickly as possible.”
Joan, who lives in St Newlyn East, has her rucksack ready and plans to spend her retirement walking in the Cornish countryside with her two Springer spaniels Maisie and Meg.
Jeff has witnessed massive changes in farming practices over the years. He said: “Years ago dairy farmers would have between 15 and 40 cows and would make a good living out of it – now you need more than 100 cows to make it viable.
“There used to be a dozen dairy farms in every parish, now there’s just one. But farmers are still facing the same challenges – and they are incredibly positive and resilient.”
Jeff said supporting Members has been the very best part of his job. “I’ve built so many relationships over the years and been accepted as a friend, as much as the insurance man,” he explained. “I’ve watched their children and families grow up, and I’ve just been to the wedding of a Member.
“This isn’t just a job, it’s a way of life, and I’ve absolutely loved it. We’re part of the community, a bit like extended family.”
Jeff is looking forward to spending more time at home in Falmouth, but still plans to visit Stithians Show each year to catch up with Members and friends.
Cornish Mutual Managing Director Peter Beaumont said: “Joan and Jeff have been fabulous ambassadors for Cornish Mutual over four decades and have seen huge changes in both farming and insurance.
“They have epitomised the Member focused stance that we take in delivering our service to farmers, businesses and individuals. The relationship they have with the rural community continues to prove the importance of having locally based advisors on the ground who really understand the needs of Members.
“We could not be more grateful for their contribution or more hopeful for a fulfilling and well deserved retirement for them both.”