On 17 August 2023 we were celebrating a 25 year long service award for Michelle Weston, our senior receptionist.

“Good morning, Bates Weston. How may I help you?”

If you have ever rung our offices at The Mills in Derby, chances are the first voice you heard would be Michelle Weston’s.

Michelle joined our team in 1998 and has been the friendly face welcoming all visitors to the Mills for the past 25 years. Michelle is our Senior Receptionist, heading our reception team and providing administrative support to all areas of the business.

Naturally friendly with a gift for putting people at ease, Michelle knows many of our clients really well. She often bumps into them out and about, stopping to chat and say hello.

Michelle first applied to Bates Weston for a general office role, having been a window dresser in her previous career. Those thoughtful and considered touches continue to bring a sense of style to our reception area. From the weekly fresh flowers to helping to design our new look meeting rooms on the ground floor, Michelle’s input is invaluable.

Michelle admits that when she first joined Bates Weston, getting to grips with who was who – there are 80 staff and more than 1,000 clients to remember – was a major challenge. She laughs and tells me that she recalls thinking she might have made “the biggest mistake of her life”!

Fortunately for Bates Weston, she quickly learned the ropes.

Michelle has seen many changes over the years. Apart from the obvious technical upgrades and system changes, the whole professional services sector has become far less traditional, first names – not titles are the order of the day. The services we deliver remain highly professional, but the approach is far less formal.

And of course, that suits Michelle. She comments:

“ I love meeting people and talking to them and I think of lots of our clients as longstanding friends. If I meet them out and about they often come over for a chat.”

One of the major challenges we all had to face was the pandemic and Michelle was one of a skeleton team of staff who needed to come into our offices. The majority of staff were able to work from home, but taking calls from anxious clients and putting them through to those who could help, was something that had to be done in person. As was handling the flow of necessary paperwork that allowed us to continue to look after our clients.

Michelle says of that time:

“Clients were understandably very anxious and were relieved to find us on the end of the phone. They had so many questions about the Government support schemes, especially furlough and it felt really good to be able to help them.”

When not at work, Michelle, and husband Andy are often to be found hiking in the Derbyshire dales with their springer spaniel Hector. In fact, Michelle recently completed an 18-mile sponsored walk along the High Peak Trail in support of Derby County Community Trust.

Increasing the pace, Michelle started running in 2017 and now regularly takes part in the Derby 10k. Her latest achievement was completing the Birmingham half Marathon.

Michelle enjoys being in her garden, and she has chosen a great garden furniture set as part of her 25-year long service award.

Wayne Thomas, Managing partner at Bates Weston comments:

“It is always pleasing to see so many staff reach long service milestones, and Michelle’s 25 years with us is exemplary. Over those years her unwavering commitment and loyalty to the firm, frequently going above and beyond what is expected, coupled with her friendly and professional attitude to all aspects of her role, are greatly appreciated by partners, staff and clients alike, and make her a vital and integral part of the team here at Bates Weston.”