Around 130 men and women attended Manx Telecom’s annual Christmas party for former employees at The Palace Hotel.

Manx Telecom chief executive Gary Lamb and several current staff members were also there, including head of field operations Sean Dickinson who was master of ceremonies for the afternoon.

Following lunch, entertainment was provided by poet and storyteller Michael Cowin, aka Pullyman, and a raffle was held which raised £532 for the Parkinson’s Disease Society Isle of Man.

For many years retired Manx Telecom employee Bob Walton has generously donated one of his paintings as the top raffle prize at the party.

This year he painted a scene of The Sound and Calf of Man which was won by Barbara McConvey.

Gary Lamb said: ’This occasion says so much about Manx Telecom because I don’t think there are many other companies in the island where so many former employees gather together every year to celebrate Christmas and talk about the good old days.

’It’s probably the best annual event I attend and one that I always look forward to.

’Many of the people here this afternoon laid the foundations on which Manx Telecom is built. They helped to make it the successful company it is today, so in addition to providing an opportunity to have fun and meet old friends, it’s also a day to show our appreciation for the contribution that our retired colleagues have made to the company, and the community we serve.’

Among the guests was 89-year-old Dougie Wright who witnessed massive changes in communications technology during a career spanning 45 years.

He began work aged 14 in 1944 for the General Post Office (GPO) which was then responsible for the island’s phone network.

During his working life the GPO evolved to become British Telecom, and in 1986 Manx Telecom was founded.

In 1944 the island had an electro-mechanical telephone system and teams of switchboard operators manually connected callers until an automated system was introduced in 1967.

In Dougie’s last year working at Manx Telecom the company installed Europe’s first fully digital telephone network.

Concluding the afternoon, Sean Dickinson expressed everyone’s thanks to the Palace Hotel staff, and to Judith Walker, PA to the chief executive at Manx Telecom, for organising the event.

Manx Telecom can trace its history back to 1889 when telephone communications began on the island - so 2019 will be a significant milestone marking the 130th anniversary of a major development in the company’s and the Isle of Man’s history.

Artist and former Manx Telecom employee Bob Walton presents his painting to raffle winner Barbara McConvey. Also pictured is Michael Cowin, aka Pullyman, who entertained guests with poems and stories

Manx Telecom executive Gary Lamb with 89-year-old retiree Dougie Wright

A photo of Dougie Wright [nearest the camera] from his early days working for the General Post Office on the island

About 130 former Manx Telecom employees attended the annual party at The Palace Hotel in Douglas