ENCOURAGING adults with learning needs to blossom has been the rewarding achievement for three long serving employees.

Beryl Arnold, aged 73, Shirley Dempsey, aged 65, and Phil Burrows, aged 53, have worked for Halton Community Services, formerly Astmoor Day Service, for a century between them.

They have helped people to develop valuable skills in projects such as a brewery and ice cream shop at Norton Priory, Shopmobility, outside catering and several cafes.

Gran Beryl, of Weston Point, started at Astmoor as admin support when it opened 40 years ago and now helps with handicrafts. She said she has enjoyed supporting people since they started working in the community.

She said: “It is very rewarding and great to see them blossom.

“They all love it. They need to be with other people just like everyone else and treated with dignity and respect.

“Learning life skills has helped them to become independent.”

Mum-of-two Beryl retired when she was 65 but returned to work because she enjoyed the job so much.

She added: “I couldn’t stand being at home. I’ve watched these people grow up. We’re like one big family.”

Shirley Dempsey, of Higher Runcorn, started as the cook in 1984 and now co-ordinates new business opportunities.

She said: “It is quite amazing. The adults have gained so much independence and confidence.

“It has given them freedom.”

Phil Burrows, from Runcorn, started as an instructor 30 years ago, and was responsible for drama productions.

He now supports an IT group and Shopmobility.

They were presented with gifts from staff and service users to mark their century milestone.

Halton Clr Marie Wright, board member for health and adults, said: “These people have been an inspiration to so many people.

“I congratulate them on their milestones.”