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Appreciating the service of Allison King and Chris Weir

Updated: Jul 23, 2022


A photo of Allison King and Chris Weir, both Chartered Librarians who became HSBC Pensioners at the beginning of this year, 2022. Between them, they worked at Midland / HSBC Business Library for twenty years – 1985 to 2005 - and together from 1994 to 1998.


Allison worked for Midland Bank/HSBC in various roles from 1985 to 1998. She joined as Deputy Librarian running the Business Enquiry Service in Midland Bank’s International Business Library which was based in Lower Thames Street. Her first few weeks involved going on a 2-week induction course for all Midland Bank Graduates which was great fun and a fabulous way to learn about all the other areas of the bank.

The Business Enquiry Service (a team of 6) was very busy with over 100 calls a day ranging from exchange rate queries to those involving more detailed research such as, we have a customer who wants to invest in the health food sector, so what’s the market like for fruit smoothies? Unusual requests that stand out are what’s the most expensive ruby in the world, what is the record for sailing around the world to what is the market for fish food in Korea? Literally we could be asked anything! In 1988 she became Librarian of the Business Library again running the enquiry service, but also becoming increasingly involved with training and publicising the library giving presentations around the UK. It was also during this time that she was involved with the initial research for First Direct. In 1989 the library merged with the Midland Economist’s library and moved to Poultry and then onto Scottish Life House.

In 1992 Allison went on maternity leave and because working part-time wasn’t practicable in her previous role she returned to work 3 days a week in 1993 as a Special Projects Researcher. This involved analysing new products for the library as well as various knowledge management and business intelligence projects. It was also during this time that she joined the HSBC 5-year career break scheme. She reflects on this: “What a great scheme this was holding your job open for 5 years so long as you worked for 2 weeks every year to keep abreast of current developments and update your skills.”  As she was working part-time anyway the 2-week return was not implemented.

In 1998 Allison again went on maternity leave and after returning for a few months she decided to trade the ‘London commute’ for a more local job. As she was a Chartered Librarian, she was able to utilise her professional librarianship skills by joining the School Library Service working for Essex County Council/then Juniper Education when the service moved into private hands. She started as a ‘peak-relief librarian’ compiling topic boxes for primary schools in Essex,then worked part-time as a children’s librarian advising schools on their library and book collections, compiling topics, storytelling on “The Bookbus” (see picture below)and running the Juniper Book Award (formerly Essex Book Award) for secondary schools. She continued to support schools during the COVID lockdown helping to supply books (to schools who were open) and on-line resources for schools to use as part of their online teaching for pupils’ studying at home.

In January 2022 she retired from Juniper to fulfil a long-held ambition with her husband of travelling the world. They started by spending 3 months (January-March) in Spain and went off again for a month touring America in June 2022. 

Life has gone full circle for Allison as she has been invited back to work for Juniper during the school holidays once again as a peak-relief librarian. She has also taken on the role of a reviewer for The Wilbur Smith Adventure Award helping to select the shortlist for the 2022 Award.

An interesting snippet you might like to know about Allison is that during her time at HSBC her husband Geoff joined the IT department and was selected for the HSBC charity scheme with Earthwatch. He went on to spend a month in Peru studying the habits of the macaws in the rainforest.

Chris worked for HSBC from 1994 to 2005. She joined as Deputy Manager of the Business Library. She initially worked in Scottish Life House until the Library was moved into the Marketing and Communications Department and the whole team moved to Lower Thames Street. Chris, like Allison, worked on many projects for all teams across the organisation. One that stands out was the Mondex Project and she remembers going to Swindon to view it.

Chris became the Manager of the Library in 2001. She worked with both teams on merging the Retail Banking Library of HSBC with the Investment Banking Library of HSBC and moving the new Library across to Canary Wharf. For a short period of time the new team worked together at the HSBC Investment Bank building next door to Vintner's Hall. Chris then stepped down as Manager to a business researcher part-time role so that she could pursue projects outside of work, including becoming a trustee for a local women's refuge charity. In 2004 a decision was made to outsource all the teams' roles to India and in July 2005 everyone in the team was made redundant.


Due to the expertise Chris had developed during her time at HSBC, and two of her previous employers, EY and the Financial Times, Chris was then able to move across to the charity sector. She worked for Samaritan's Purse from 2005 - 2011 and Farm Africa from 2011-2016. At both charities she developed and managed the Supporter Services Teams and went on some amazing trips to see some of the projects, including Kyrgyzstan and Ethiopia. In 2016 she moved across to the museum & heritage sector and worked at the Museum of the Home (previously known as the Geffrye Museum) from 2016 - 2019, and the Old Royal Naval College from 2019 - 2021, where she retired last September. At both organisations she managed their CRM databases.


Since then, Chris has become both an HSBC and FT pensioner, joined the FT and EY Alumni Groups, volunteers at the local Foodbank and for the Royal National Theatre's archive team too. She is also doing some consultancy work for the Turner Contemporary Gallery, helping them change and clean their CRM database. Like Allison she has been on some great trips, including a photography workshop in Norway to see the Northern Lights.


Working for Midland Bank/HSBC was a great experience for both Allison and Chris on a work and personal level.  They both look back on their time there with extreme gratitude and fond memories, not only of the lovely people they worked with over the years, but also at the opportunities they were given to develop life skills (communication, research, teamwork, management, problem solving and creative thinking) all of which they continued to use: Allison at Juniper Education but also in her personal life as a Church Warden and in researching her travels and Chris for charity work, volunteering and CRM skills.


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