The father and son team dedicated to keeping Nissan in Sunderland

Thomas and Shaun Clark
Thomas and Shaun Clark
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Father and son Shaun and Thomas Clark are keeping it in the family at Sunderland’s Nissan plant.


Maintenance team leader Shaun, 47, was one of the first apprentices at the Sunderland plant as a 17-year-old trainee maintenance technician in 1986.


And 19-year-old Thomas has followed in his father’s footsteps.


He is in the third year of a five-year apprenticeship as a trainee maintenance technician.

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As the plant celebrates the 30th anniversary of its official opening, Shaun is in no doubt about how vital Nissan has been to a region which was reeling from the loss of its traditional industries such as shipbuilding and mining which had provided a job for life for generations.


“Without Nissan, the North East would’ve been a disaster, a ghost town,” he said.


“The company’s meant everything for me and my family.


“It was hard to get a job back in 1986, so I jumped at the chance.”


Shaun is astonished by how far the plant has come since Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher performed its official opening ceremony 30 years ago this week.


“You’re always pushed, and this place never stands still but if you’d told me I’d have still been here 30 years later, building electric cars, I wouldn’t have believed you.


“I had no reservations when Thomas got the apprenticeship at Nissan – this is a good place to work.”


Thomas is delighted he decided to join his dad at the Sunderland factory rather than continue into higher education. “I’ve always liked fixing things and I didn’t want to go to university,” he said.


“I wanted a job where I could be hands-on, so an apprenticeship seemed the right way to go.” He is now combining college study with working at the company’s battery plant, and is enjoying the challenge: “There are plenty of opportunities with Nissan to progress and climb the ladder, and you get job security,” he said.