Two hard-working Brummies have clocked up half a century of work for Aston University in the same year the institute celebrates 50 years of excellence.

Dennis Prendergast and Penny Clutterbuck both joined the university 25-years-ago and now work for its hotel and conferencing venue, Conference Aston, with the duo announcing that they have no plans to leave in the future.

Both Dennis, who works as a night porter, and Penny, who works as a domestic cleaner, started working for Aston University within a week of each other in June 1990 and state that the secret to their long-serving employment is down to ‘the people’.  

Dennis, 51, said: “I was originally only ever going to stay at Conference Aston for about four months and now, the rest is history. I’ve stayed here because of the people. We get so many different customers walk through our door and because I work the night shift, I get to meet a lot of interesting characters. It’s fun to work here - hard work - but the people make it fun.”

Penny, 71, agrees, saying: “I started working here because my friend told me about it. I enjoy it a lot as the people appreciate you and the culture is great. The senior management team are so friendly too - I’ll often see Julia, the Vice-Chancellor, at 5am and she’ll shout “still on early bird, I see”. It just makes you feel appreciated and involved.”

Born and bred in Cotteridge, Dennis is no stranger to late night hotel antics. Having worked previously at Eaton Hotel on Hagley Road before coming to the university, he admits that during his night shifts, he has “probably seen it all”. Despite these amusing moments however, the thing that’s surprised Dennis most during his time at Conference Aston is the change in buildings and landscape.

“The biggest change is the buildings. They’ve brought light into them, made more open spaces. The campus is the oasis of the city.”

Penny has also seen the campus transform over the years. She said: “The investment into the library has been great. They’ve added a glass extension to make it much brighter and it looks lovely now. It’s strange because I used to go to the cinema around here on a Saturday - it was a right laugh - and that was always the busiest place. But now, the library is where everybody goes. It’s become the social hub for students.”

Penny, who lives in Castle Bromwich, has worked in most buildings across Aston University and Conference Aston. From housekeeping to domestic cleaning, the enthusiastic worker joined the institution following redundancy at HP Sauce.

When asked if she has any plans on leaving, she said: “Not at all, no plans to leave. We have a regular that comes in and is always shocked to see me. She can’t believe that I’m still here.”  

Samantha Brown, Head of Conference Aston, said: “Conference Aston wouldn’t be the same without Dennis and Penny. They’re fundamental in making our venue top class, from knowing the venue inside out to understanding our customers’ needs. Our employees are our most important asset and we strive to create a supportive workplace and so we’re thrilled to hear stories like theirs. I would just like to thank Dennis and Penny for their hard-work and look forward to many more years with them.”

2016 saw the 50th anniversary of Aston University which received its Royal Charter from Queen Elizabeth II on 22 April, 1966. Conference Aston is the university’s own meeting centre and is the biggest residential conference venue in Birmingham.

For more information on Conference Aston, please visit:

R by Clive Reeves PR Birmingham