Despite health issues, Tony finds a way back to work through Oxfordshire Employment

Tony Beechers has been through a great deal in recent years, but it’s no exaggeration to say that working for County Print Finishers (CPF) has provided new meaning to his life.

As a supported business, CPF is well used to shaping lives for the better over its long history as part of Oxford Employment which is operated by Oxfordshire County Council. This year, it is celebrating its 75th birthday for supplying quality assured services to the local print and data destruction industries.After a series of health issues, which would have stopped lesser men, Tony is part of the workforce, as a driver. But it’s a lot more to him than that.

Tony explained: “I’ve never worked in such an environment before. Everyone here – my work colleagues and my managers – everyone helps you. I was made to feel welcome in the first week and that’s not stopped.”

Driving in tandem or as part of a two-vehicle convoy, during the pandemic, great care has been taken to ensure Tony’s safety and with good reason.

After working in highways maintenance since the 1980s, seeing a physiotherapist was nothing new to Tony who had been enduring muscle pain on and off. But in 2003, doctors discovered he had inherited a heart condition – hypertrophic cardiomyophy or HCM. The risk of a heart attack while doing manual labour, forced him to give up his job.

“I took up other jobs in the meantime,” Tony went on to say. “I’m quite a strong person because you want to support your family. When my wife was later diagnosed with cancer, it was quite a stressful time.”

Twelve months after she was given the all-clear in 2011, Tony then faced a decade of hospital treatment in which he was diagnosed with diabetes, as well as testicular cancer and a tumour behind his eye for which he is currently in remission. He withdrew into himself and despite being a passionate Oxford United fan, even turned down tickets to the Kassam.

But being employed at CPF since 2020 has helped him recover his confidence and develop a sense of purpose.

“After lots of years stuck at home, keeping things to myself and not telling my kids about my condition, I’ve realised now that that’s not a good thing. I don’t tend to ask for help. It comes from my dad who was a sergeant-major in the Army Medical Corps. At work it’s so relaxing to be alongside people who care about me,” he said.

“It’s given me a chance to smile more. I used to get moody a lot, but I’m not as bad as I was. I feel calmer in my body, I now know I will be fine and everybody works as a team.”

Will Gardner, Employment Print Finishers Team Manager, said: “Tony is a classic example of how we can help people find their way into the world of work and have a positive impact on their self-esteem and outlook. Tony brings a lifetime of skill and determination to his role and brings this to bear in mentoring his colleagues and turning his hand to a multitude of tasks across our operations.

“At Oxfordshire Employment, we are an established leader in helping people find and remain in employment. We also provide supported internship opportunities, which are highly successful in supporting young adults to enter work. 

“We have teams of dedicated employment advisers located across the county, who can help people to develop your work skills, look for employment, get over problems along the way and get a job and keep it.

“We are proud that we regularly exceed our targets in terms of helping people achieve and sustain employment.”

Want to work?

Oxfordshire Employment is funded to offer support to anyone who has barriers in gaining employment. If you are interested in learning more, you should speak to Oxfordshire Employment about being referred for support.

As well as helping people directly into employment, Oxfordshire Employment also operates County Print Finishers and offers paid work placements to help develop work skills and experience to prepare you for external employment.

Further information can be found on Oxfordshire County Council’s website.