THE man who opened Burton's first YMCA property for young people has bowed out of the charity after more than 40 years.
Senior housing officer Tony Gratton stepped down from the role this week after a career which has seen him work for the organisation up and down the country.
His long and distinguished career has brought him to Burton twice, with his most recent stint starting 10 years ago and taking through to retirement.
Mr Gratton, 66, told the Mail: "I am ready for it but it's hard to let go, because this type of work gets into your blood.
"It's about what you can achieve. To see young people grown and build their lives and get on the right track is such a rewarding aspect of the job.
"The job has given me the opportunity to serve the community in a way."
Mr Gratton's association with theYMCA began at a young age, when he lived in one of the charity's hostel's during his time as an engineering apprentice in Northamptonshire.
His first job with the organisation was as a warden at his previous home.
He has also worked for the charity in Lichfield, London, Bedfordshire and Derby.
One of his best memories comes from Burton – with the opening of the Reconnect centre in James Street. The team behind the project fought both for funding and backing for the centre, which has been an overwhelming success.
Paul Laffey, chief executive of Burton YMCA, said: "We want to say a huge thank you to Tony. The vulnerable people of Burton have benefited immeasurably from his experience and dedication."