People of Leeds: Is this Leeds’ longest-serving council employee?

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Leeds City Council’s longest serving employee is a sprightly 75-year-old who helps keep the community fit by leading exercise classes at a local leisure centre.

David Birkby has worked for the council for the last 60 years, initially as a electrical apprentice when he was 15 but now as a fitness instructor at Morley Leisure Centre.

The Drighlington fitness fanatic is still on the council’s payroll and first started leading the exercise classes in 1983.

As many as 80 people turn up for the classes, which run four times a week, to get their hearts racing for an hour.

“If I didn’t enjoy helping to run the classes, then I wouldn’t be doing it,” he told the Yorkshire Evening Post.

“Fitness is something I have always been interested in, I used to be a marathon runner when I was younger so I have been into keeping fit all my life.”

David retired from his full-time job as an electrical engineer in 2001 but couldn’t bring himself to settle into retirement for good.

He said: “I never really thought about retiring, if my health stays good then I will keep working for as long as I can.

“I don’t know how much I get paid for the classes, it isn’t about the money, I just enjoy the work.

“I am very proud of what I do.”

When he is not leading an evening’s circuit training, David enjoys growing tomatoes and cucumbers in his vegetable patch.

But while the keen gardener has very fond memories from his decades working for Leeds City Council, the last 60 years weren’t all plain sailing. In 2015, David mistakenly received a letter from his employer, asking him to prove he was not an illegal immigrant.

“I got a lot of stick off my work mates when I came in the next day!”

The father-of-two has lived in the same house in Moorside Parade with his wife for the last 50 years.

He said: “I would never leave Leeds, I think when I leave the city it will be in a box.”