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Gardline marks 40th anniversary

PUBLISHED: 10:27 03 July 2009 | UPDATED: 14:18 03 July 2010

In print: Gregory Darling, chairman of Gardline and son of founder George Darling, presents the Gardline book to Meriel Darling, Gregory's mother and widow of George Darling, and book author Roy Strowger.

In print: Gregory Darling, chairman of Gardline and son of founder George Darling, presents the Gardline book to Meriel Darling, Gregory's mother and widow of George Darling, and book author Roy Strowger.

NOT many family firms can boast a £100m turnover and burgeoning business interests around the world.

From small beginnings Gardline has grown into a global concern of nearly 50 companies and 1,000 employees.

Anniversary celebrations

NOT many family firms can boast a £100m turnover and burgeoning business interests around the world.

From small beginnings Gardline has grown into a global concern of nearly 50 companies and 1,000 employees.

The extraordinary achievements of the Great Yarmouth-based company were celebrated at a 40th anniversary party on Saturday.

It was an occasion charismatic founder George Darling would have revelled in after starting the company with one ship in 1969.

Mr Darling died in 2006, but not before he had seen his original Gardline Shipping company develop into an impressive worldwide portfolio.

He had started the ball rolling selling his scrapyard and forklift truck business to become the part-owner of a ship to cash in on the survey market created by the North Sea's oil and gas industry.

Today the group's activities range from marine sciences to satellite communications and shipbuilding to renewable energy services.

Current chairman and George's son, Gregory Darling, said the company's policy of never borrowing and using its own money had stood it in good stead to prosper despite the ravages of the economic recession.

He recalled the mid-1980s when Gardline fought back from nearly going out of business and his sense of satisfaction at knowing his father had seen things turn around by the time he died.

The anniversary party, at the De Vere Dunston Hall Hotel, near Norwich, also saw the launch of a souvenir book Gardline: The First 40 Years A Celebration charting the history of the company.

Penned by former Archant journalist Roy Strowger, now of TMS Media, the book is a personal tribute to George Darling as well as a celebration of the company's success.

A copy of the book was presented to George's widow Meriel during nine hours of celebrations.

Mr Strowger said: “The book is told through the eyes of the people who have worked for the company and their recollections of George Darling.

“Mr Darling was a guy who saw an opportunity and took it, a great entrepreneur and larger than life character.

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