BUSINESS leaders and politicians hailed Teesside’s vibrant community spirit for helping to revive a proud 150-year steelmaking tradition.
SSI president Win Viriyaprapaikit was handed the key to Redcar’s mighty blast furnace, marking the completion of the company’s £291m takeover of Teesside Cast Products (TCP).
Mr Win hailed Teesside as “a wonderful place” and said its people were a real asset to the local community.
He said: “They have been through several years of uncertainty and two years of hardship. Yesterday marked the end of that hardship.”
He said SSI’s presence on Teesside could be the catalyst for other international investors to come to the area.
“I hope that this will be the pioneer that will lead to more Thai companies coming to the UK,” he said.
“This was a great day for Teesside, for SSI and for UK steelmaking.”
Phil Dryden, a former Corus boss involved in talks to find a buyer for Teesside Cast Products, said he was already looking forward to the day the blast furnace was switched back on again.
Mr Dryden, who has returned to TCP as President of SSI UK, said: “I just need to focus people on the first task and that is producing 10,000 tonnes [of steel] a day - and doing it day after day after day.”
Yesterday was an emotional day for hundreds of people - particularly those whose lives had been turned upside down during the tumultuous battle to save Teesside steel.