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This Man With Down's Syndrome Has Worked In McDonald's For Over 30 Years

Laura Hamilton

| Last updated 

This Man With Down's Syndrome Has Worked In McDonald's For Over 30 Years

The average millennial in the UK stays in each job for around five years, however one Australian man is putting us all to shame. His name is Russell O'Grady and he's been working in a McDonald's in a Sydney suburb of Northmead for over 30 years - and he is loving it.

Russell O'Grady is almost fifty years old and still enjoys every part of his job.

Imagine working at Maccies for over thirty years. I bet you get a sick discount - french fries and a McFlurry every damn day... sounds like the dream.

What makes it more amazing about his long tenure at the fast food chain is that Russell has Down's Syndrome. Down's Syndrome is a genetic condition, resulting from an additional copy of chromosome 21. Approximately one in every 1,000 babies in the UK is born with Down's Syndrome.


In the UK, there are approximately 40,000 people with Down's Syndrome, but only 8,000 are in full time employment. Fewer than 2 in 10 people with learning difficulties have jobs, due to lack of support and ignorance but charities like Down's Syndrome Association are working to improve the stigma.

Russell may be the exception, but that just proves how exceptional he is. He completed a work experience placement by Job Support, an Australian government initiative that helps people with disabilities gain work experience, at McDonald's in 1986 when he was just 18 years old.

Russell loved working so much and was such a good employee he was offered a full time role. He began packing party boxes, before moving on to other responsibilities and even a stint in the kitchen.


Now he works three days a week, cleaning, working at the till and greeting customers - his favourite part of the job.

But it's his cheery attitude and friendliness that makes him stand out from the crowd. He's become something of a local legend.

His dad, Geoff O'Grady told The Daily Mail that Russell is "the best-known person in Northmead".


"People stop him on the street and shake his hand," Geoff said. "He's very affectionate, dearly loved and appreciated, to such an extent that we just don't believe it."

Working at McDonald's has being a boon for Russell's self-esteem.

"Somebody said to him "are you handicapped?" and his answer was "I used to be when I went to school, but now I work at McDonald's",' his father said. "Because other people who work there are normal, he assumes he is now too."


But Russell, who is planning on retiring soon, isn't the only one with learning difficulties who has worked at McDonald's for over three decades.

He shares that honour with Massachusetts native Freia David who retired last year after working for McDonald's since 1984. She was also placed on a programme for people with cognitive disabilities that set her up with work experience at Maccy D's.

After cooking french fries for 32 years, McDonald's threw her a big retirement party - and told her that she got to eat for free for the rest of her life. Goals.

Featured Image Credit: Job Support Inc

Laura Hamilton
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