VIRTUALLY all the employees of Almac have a cherished story to tell about the life and times of the late Sir Allen McClay – from the boardroom to the shop floor, and this week the Portadown Times was privileged to share those stories with them.
PAUL BROWN, Phara Services Office Manager, with the company 19 years.
"Sir Allen was a colossus of a man, building up a marvellous empire, yet able to personally contact with every one of us. He was great craic. He owned six horses and we used to go to the races with him and he was the life and soul of the party. He cared about us like a father cares about his family. It's a terrible loss."
ELAINE GIBSON, Global and Events Manager.
"I organised all his travel and he appreciated everything I – and everyone else – did. I was also deeply involved in the annual firm party in the marquee in the grounds and he loved that. His greatest joy was to see the numbers growing year on year, as that meant the firm was prospering and more and more people were given a meaningful job and a positive livelihood."
ANNE CARROLL, till operator in the canteen.
"We simply loved him. I used to make him strawberry cheese cake which was his favourite. What said the most about him was that he refused to have his own parking space in the grounds, even though he was chairman of such a major company. He said he was just like the rest of us. We made him up a number plate 'ALMAC 1' and he put it on his wall."
PHILIP DIAMOND, VP of Corporate Development with 30 years service.
"In our plc days, it looked as if jobs were going to go to America and he wouldn't have that. He had great pride in reversing the brain drain from Northern Ireland, so he used his fortune to buy back the lot and expanded to 1,600 employees on this site and expanded to America. That was when he reached retirement age. That's how much he cared."
CONCHITA GARCIA, Chemist and Manager of Lab Services.
"I have worked in Spain, Hawaii and the US mainland, and the facilities Sir Allen set up here in Portadown are the best I have ever seen. They are legendary among researchers, and this is the place to work. He was such a wonderful man and will be sadly missed. The facilities are truly unbelievable."
PAUL MERCER, Shop Floor Supervisor.
"Sir Allen was simply one of us. When I started 25 years ago, there were just 25 employees.
He used to make us stew at lunchtime, Irish stew with spices, his own recipe and it was great stuff.
At times, when a big job had to go out, he would join the production line and get stuck in and we'd turn on the speed, but he kept up.
He never changed and joined in the fun right to the end. His death is an awful blow."
CELINE BRADLEY, VP Global Operations, Almac Clinical Services.
"I have had a very privileged working life and have been fortunate to work for Allen for the last 20 years . Allen was inspirational and repeatedly gave us the confidence to believe that we could be world leaders.
“My first memory of Allen as a new recruit was chopping vegetables to make the soup for the staff lunch - the tradition of eating lunch and having tea together continued through the years.
“Work may well be less fun now but we fully intend to ensure his gift of Almac to us continues to secure employment, advance healthcare and contribute to society.”