A senior project manager who has worked on assignments from fighter jets and luxury cars to interactive exhibits at children’s museums is retiring after nearly 42 years at Manchester-based engineering and manufacturing company EDM.

Neil Bottomley, 64, joined EDM as a pattern maker in May 1982 after serving a three-year apprenticeship at J.J. Harvey in Denton, Greater Manchester.

He progressed through the company’s ranks working on subsea, rail, automotive, marine, museum and defence projects which took him around the world to countries including Taiwan, Singapore, Spain, Norway and the United States as well as throughout the British Isles.

In his role as senior project manager, he leads EDM’s integrated project team for the defence sector. He will officially retire at the end of March.

Neil is the longest-serving member of staff at EDM, but not far behind him are production supervisors Graham Hill and Nigel Southworth and fitter Glen Shepley, who all joined the company in 1983.

EDM manufactures and assembles training simulators for clients in sectors including civil aviation, defence and rail. It is based at a 100,000sq ft site in Newton Heath, where it also operates an aviation training academy. The group has 200 staff.

When Neil joined EDM it was based in Failsworth, Oldham, then as it expanded the business moved to nearby Hollinwood before relocating to its current site.

He said: “My first job at EDM was to work on a clay wind tunnel model for the Jaguar XJ40.

“I’ve been involved in many developments over the years, but the standout projects for me were working with renowned designer Harris Mann on the layout of a train cab interior, producing interactive exhibits for the Imaginosity museum in Dublin, full-size Eurofighter Typhoon mock-ups for air shows and, similarly and most recently, one for the BAE Systems Tempest next generation fighter aircraft.

“Every job has been different and interesting, and I’ve loved the variety.

“EDM is a great place to work. I’ll miss the people here – everyone is really friendly and there is a good atmosphere.

“The best part of the job has been working with great colleagues and customers to produce fantastic products which are still in use after many years. It’s also been immensely rewarding seeing younger members of staff progress their careers.

“One of the founding directors and chairman of the company, Ron Yule, said at his retirement that, to allow the company to grow, we the employees needed to grow with it and embrace the diversity and developments of the business. His words remain so poignant 32 years on.

“I’ve seen many young people come into EDM and have worked with them to help bring them to the fore of the business by developing their skills and encouraging them to the stage where they’ve been ready to take the lead on projects.”

He added: “It’s a good career because there are elements of design, creativity and building something of lasting value, as well as learning a special set of skills. I’d certainly encourage the next generation to follow in my footsteps.”

Neil has been married to Kath, a legal secretary, for nearly 42 years. The couple live in Ramsbottom and have two daughters and three grandchildren.

He plans to uses his retirement to pursue his hobbies of collecting and selling antiques and football and music memorabilia, as well as gardening, DIY and spending more time with his family.

Tony Bermingham, managing director of EDM, said: “Neil has been a loyal, dedicated and hard-working employee of the company for the last 42 years. It’s been a pleasure working alongside him for 28 of those years since I joined the business, and all the directors and employees wish him a long, healthy and happy retirement.”