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Accountant Jackie Godwin from Highclere retires from Arena, the Newbury company that her parents set up in 1967

A Highclere accountant has retired after working for 44 years at the company her parents founded in Newbury nearly 60 years ago.

At the end of last month, Jackie Godwin retired from her role as divisional accountant at Arena, a global supplier of temporary architecture and infrastructure for some of the world’s biggest sporting events, including the 2012 London Olympics, The Open golf tournament and F1 grand prix races.

Jackie Godwin receives a signed picture from her brother Terry Smith, surrounded by Arena colleagues past and present
Jackie Godwin receives a signed picture from her brother Terry Smith, surrounded by Arena colleagues past and present

Arena Promotional Facilities (as it was then known) was launched by Mrs Godwin’s parents Ron and Grace in 1967 when they provided seating for an exhibition table tennis match at the Corn Exchange.

Colleagues past and present gathered at Arena’s seating division office in Membury to pay tribute to Mrs Godwin’s contribution over the years and wish her a happy retirement.

She said: “Officially I’ve been with Arena since 1980, when I returned after having my children, but I remember helping my dad with the seats at Queens Club when I was still a teenager – I’ve always been involved in some capacity.

“The company has changed so much over the years, and it has been wonderful to see how it has grown and developed.

“I remember being on the London Eye during the 2012 Olympics and seeing our volleyball arena at Horse Guard’s Parade, and at that moment realising just how far we had come.

“I’ve always been lucky to have such lovely colleagues and I’m certainly going to miss them.”

Mrs Godwin, who has two children and four grandchildren, isn’t the only member of her family to work for Arena either.

Her brother Terry Smith is managing director and her son Paul designs some of the seating that the company supplies.

Mr Smith paid tribute to her “amazing contribution” to the company.

He said: “Jackie’s dedication and commitment has been incredible over these years, always putting in extra time and effort to make this such a long-standing and successful business.

“Her passion and enthusiasm to help the company succeed has remained undiminished, from our humble beginnings as a small family run business through to being part of one of the biggest and most successful global event groups that we are today.

“I personally owe my big sister a huge debt of gratitude for her tremendous support to me both personally and professionally.

“Jackie can only be described as the ‘rock’ of our seating division, whose shoes will be incredibly difficult to fill in the future.

“However, I know her husband and best friend, Stewart, will be glad to see her try to take life a little slower and will look forward to more holidays and spending precious time with their children and grandchildren.”

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