The factory was on Flaxley Road, Stechford, Birmingham, and Mr Mackenzie worked there from 1935 – 1983, beginning as tea boy and finishing as Departmental Manager for the Spares Department and Sheltered Workshop.
Mr Mackenzie was an active member of the Association for Research into Restricted Growth, advising on employment, and he helped to develop a Sheltered Workshop for people at Thorn Gas Appliances Ltd. who became disabled after joining the firm.In 1981, in recognition of their exemplary policies and practical achievements in the employment of people with disabilities, and more than ten years of integration at work between able-bodied workers and workers with disabilities, the firm was presented with a ‘Fit for Work’ award by the Manpower Services Commission. Mr Mackenzie, as the manager primarily involved in enabling this achievement, was chosen to attend the ceremony in London to receive the award and certificate.
The Reverend Raymond Smith, chairman of Birmingham’s Committee for the Employment of Disabled People, said in a press notice issued by the Manpower Services Commission on 4 December 1981: “The winning of a Fit for Work award is the sign of a positive and enlightened policy in helping to employ disabled people, integrate them into the working life of a firm or organisation and retain workers who become disabled through illness or accident. Thorn has an excellent record including a sheltered industrial group of disabled people working in its spares department and it is to be applauded for the work it has done.”Thorn Gas at Stechford had more than 70 people of its 1100 employees registered as disabled. “We have people here with all kinds of disability ranging from asthma to blindness – yet they are all proving that they can carry out worthwhile work”, said Mr Mackenzie. Some people continued to work alongside their able-bodied colleagues after adaptations had been made to machinery and equipment; other staff re-trained and were found alternative employment in the Sheltered Workshop.
The ‘Fit for Work’ organisation now provides a free service of occupational health advice to support working people who experience long-term sickness absence return to work.