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Retired businessman back to work to help unload vital supplies amid coronavirus crisis

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Alan Dunlop has returned to work at the age of 67

Alan Dunlop has returned to work at the age of 67

Alan Dunlop has returned to work at the age of 67

A former Belfast shipping firm boss has come out of retirement and is back at work to assist unloading vital supplies amid the coronavirus crisis.

Alan Dunlop, who is now 67, is a former director of William Reid. He’s now decided to return to the quayside after four employees self-isolated in the worsening Covid-19 crisis.

The company says it is currently unloading a cargo of coiled steel from Taiwan. After Belfast, the vessel, ‘Spar Spice’, will make its final call in Belgium, and the 3,500 tonnes of steel delivered in Belfast will be transported to a local steel service centre before making its way to manufacturers of steel products throughout Ireland. The steel will be used in all sectors including the production of hospital trolleys and bins.

“William Reid has battled through the worst imaginable trading circumstances,” Mr Dunlop said. “During the Second World War, the firm turned its hand to shipping potatoes to Great Britain and during economic downturns, we were severely tested, but pulled through.

“We will also pull through this awful pandemic. Like other companies, we, too, are suffering which is why I’ve come out of retirement to lend a hand on the quayside. Naturally, we are strictly adhering to Government guidance and advice on Covid-19 to give employees maximum protection.

“I live in Londonderry but for the foreseeable future, I will be available as and when required. We are the only specialist steel stevedoring company in Ireland with extensive quayside warehousing and two gantry cranes to handle coiled steel.

“Right now, it’s all hands on deck. It’s a bit of a shock to the system to be once again grappling with heavy equipment but I’m healthy and reasonably fit and want to do all I can to maintain the supply of essential steel for a sector that will build what’s required in the fight against Covid-19.”