A love that lasts forever. And a well-kept secret

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Francisco Sanchez was part of the Hellmann family in Spain his whole life. It was only at the age of 81 that the now 89-year-old went into his well-deserved retirement. That alone demands the utmost respect! As far as Francisco's story is concerned, however, this is only the beginning of a new chapter.

Francisco never lost contact with his former colleagues, nor did he lose touch with our company. With the day of his retirement, however, he kept a secret: his love of model making. With the same passion that he had previously shown in his work, he devoted himself in recent years to build a model ship and a Hellmann truck that he had designed himself. The hobbyist used only recycled materials for the models - live sustainability in the best sense!

Francisco only revealed his secret in September 2020. At that time, Alex Delrue, Managing Director of Hellmann Spain, received a call: "I have a present for you, a truck and a ship," Francisco told him. But the models could not be sent because they were too big. So the model maker asked for an appointment to hand them over in person. So on 12 September 2020, Francisco presented his gift at our office in Madrid. It was a memorable day for everyone. We were overwhelmed by Francisco's story and his generous gift.

Francisco himself was also happy to experience this day. Because after he left Hellmann at 81, he suffered a heart attack, was diagnosed with cancer, and contracted Covid-19. Nevertheless, he did not let himself be diverted from his path, overcame all illnesses, and personally delivered his models at the age of almost 90.  

The ship and the truck now enrich our office in Madrid and stand proudly in Alex Delrue's office. The truck is a replica of a 1937 Chevrolet with doors that open, windows that roll up and down, and an adjustable rearview mirror. Francisco explained that the truck's wings are square so that they can be removed in case of a breakdown and serve as a seat while the engine is being repaired. The model truck is even equipped with a removable spare wheel.

The Hellmann ship was made with the same attention to detail as the truck. The keel is made from boards from a fruit crate - an ideal wood for model making. As Francisco explained, he had to soak the wood in water for hours beforehand to make it flexible enough to shape. The wood runs along the underside of the model ship from bow to stern, forming the complete hull. Both ornate models would grace any museum, that much is certain. And when the Corona restrictions are relaxed and you can travel again, we invite you to look at the models inspired by one man's love of his work and showing the tenacity of this extraordinary man's life.

Jost Hellmann personally had the opportunity to meet Francisco during a cocktail reception in Madrid. He couldn't believe that we had an employee of over 80 years - according to Jost Hellmann, probably the oldest employee Hellmann has ever employed. On 11 May 2021, Francisco Sanchez will finally celebrate his 90th birthday and we are already bowing our heads in reverence to this great personality.

Katja Siefke

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