100 Years and Counting with Keirron Mascall

When he was at school, Keirron Mascall enjoyed practical lessons; working with his hands and working with different types of materials. Subsequently, he was advised by his careers tutor and parents that doing an apprenticeship would give him a good foundation in life. Keirron applied to Marshall and after successfully completing the test and interview, he was offered a place on the programme and on the 19th August 1969, Keirron began his journey with Marshall as a Vehicle Body Builder apprentice.

Throughout his apprenticeship, he worked on interesting projects like the manufacture and assembly of containers for the Ministry of Defence. These containers were used as repair workshops and command posts that offered protection against worldwide environmental conditions. They were also air conditioned and pressurised against nuclear, bacteriological and chemical warfare. They could be transported by truck or by air and could be dropped in the field as required. During this time, he worked with three highly skilled engineers who were instrumental in Keirron’s professional development by sharing their knowledge and experiences, which also gave Keirron a good foundation in working with young people. Keirron believes that the Marshall apprentices are so highly skilled and sort after because they went through the ‘Marshall system’. Many of Marshalls’ employees started as apprentices themselves and therefore understand what the new apprentices are going through, which means that everyone is generous with their time and happy to help develop and nurture new talent as those three engineers did with him.

In 1974, he was offered a job as a Training Instructor and two years later Robin Lipscombe joined him starting their 43-year legendary double act. Keirron describes their relationship as a fantastic partnership and between them they trained over 1,400 apprentices who have all gone on to make their mark in the aerospace and defence industry, which is an incredible legacy. Keirron and Robin also delivered adult retraining to people from different walks of life such as machinists who were retrained to be aircraft fitters, so they had the opportunity to work with a wide variety of people over the years. Keirron enjoyed seeing the apprentices thrive in their careers, especially knowing what they were like in their first year; seeing those who struggled initially become respected experts in their fields made Keirron feel proud.

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Keirron always encouraged the apprentices to spend time on each project to ensure it was perfect because then they would be proud of what they produced and it would meet the strict quality standards expected of anyone working on aircraft. Many past apprentices are so proud of the work they produced under the instruction of Keirron and Robin that they still have their metal work projects at home. A few years ago, they did an activity called ‘back to the shop floor’ where they invited a few past apprentices to come back and repeat the first activity they did as an apprentice. Mark Johnston, who was one of their best apprentices and now the Chief Engineer at MADG, challenged Keirron to see who could make a slot and curve (a piece of metal that is profiled) the quickest. Although Mark is highly skilled and much faster than he was as an apprentice, Keirron still beat him.

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Keirron said that they worked hard but they also had a few good laughs with the apprentices over the years. He recalled one instance in the early 80’s when there was a need for large amounts of blood because of the Falklands War. Two of the apprentices asked Robin if they could go donate blood because they had a station set up in the canteen. Robin said they could go but he wouldn’t join them because he didn’t like needles. Keirron overheard the conversation and decided to get one up on Robin and so stepped up to join the apprentices. Keirron, having never given blood before, did not know what to expect but he watched the two lads go in and come out quickly so he assumed it wouldn’t be too bad. Unfortunately, after Keirron gave his first pint, he fainted, which meant that he didn’t get back to the workshop for another hour. By that time, everyone knew what happened and they all found it extremely amusing. Thankfully, the fainting spell did not put Keirron off and he recently donated his 63rd pint of blood.

The apprentices also helped Keirron especially when it came to computers and technology. Keirron was not used to working with computers and the apprentices were eager to spend time showing him how to use the technology and he was always grateful for their time and help.     

Keirron retired in 2019 marking 50 years of service to Marshall, which was a proud moment for him. He described his career as very rewarding and fulfilling, especially seeing the apprentices develop from their first day to collecting their qualifications at the apprentice awards; when he saw them get their certificates he would say, “job done”.

Keirron Mascall is an unsung hero and Marshall legend who had a positive impact on every person who had the pleasure of learning from him. He deserves to be celebrated for his contribution to the aerospace and defence industry in the United Kingdom, and for dedicating 50 years of his life to Marshall.

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