Newport woman Karen Welch has celebrated 50 years of service with Western Power Distribution, making her the first female in the electricity industry in Wales to complete this milestone.

Karen, based at WPD’s Cwmbran office began her career with South Wales Electricity Board in 1971 as a mailing room clerk at its headquarters in St Mellons.

She was appointed to the role of public relations officer in 1986, and in 1996, when Welsh Water took over the electricity company SWALEC, it became a water and electricity multi-utility.

In 2000 Hyder was taken over by WPD and Karen was appointed to the role of corporate communications officer, the role she holds to date.

Over the past 50 years Karen has seen many changes in the workplace.

She said: “When I started work, we used manual typewriters, there were no photocopies, we used duplicating machines, there were no desk computers, and all incoming and outgoing phone calls were made via a switchboard, which I was trained to use. Desk computers weren’t common place until the 1980s.

“I remember working through the three-day week back in January 1974, which was introduced in the UK to conserve electricity, the UK was put onto power cut rotas, as generation was severely restricted owing to industrial action by coal miners.

“We worked without heating, it was freezing that winter and to keep warm we worked with our coats, gloves and scarves on, and more astonishingly we worked by oil lamps and torches! The fire risk was huge. Can you imagine doing that these days. Hard to believe it now, but good memories!

“I have been incredibly lucky and have always loved my job. I’ve been lucky enough to be part of some great events and occasions over the years. I’ve always been a people person which was ideal in my role, as it brought me into contact with a diverse mix of people across Wales. I have been fortunate to make some great life-long friends through my work too. I wouldn’t have had it any other way,” said Karen.