British steel was privatized  in 1988. The workforce had shrunk to 52,000. The industry continued to  suffer, with plants closing and men being sacked. 

When the steel works closed in the town, all the men lost their jobs. The regional government agency, organised job centres to help them find work.

‘Mr Hardacre is there anything you are interested in?’ The job centre assistant asked.

‘I’m a champion cucumber grower. I’ve held the  Bredon Cup for eight years. It’s down to my secret methods. They are thirsty buggers, cucumbers.’

‘Well I’m not sure we have vacancies for cucumber champions Mr Hardacre. Would you say you like children?’

‘I’ve got five grandchildren.’

‘Splendid, I’ll give Mrs James a ring at the primary school. I think we’ve found you a new role.’


Mr Hardacre was surrounded by nineteen eager young faces, keen to  start on the school’s new project – the vegetable garden. ‘Jason, go with Tiffany and bring me some water from the rainwater butt. Use the bucket. The rest of you, don’t forget you’re not to tell your granddads about our little secret.’

‘No Mr Hardacre,’ they chorused.

‘You’ll be champions just like me.’ Mr Hardacre winked at his new workforce.

‘Yes Mr Hardacre.’

‘They’re thirsty buggers,’ piped up six year old Dean.

‘Aye, they are lad!’ Mr Hardacre didn’t miss the steel works. He loved his new role.