SEVEN weeks after they were made redundant with just six minutes’ notice, the Visteon car plant protestors finally left their former workplace today.

Accompanied by firecracker bangs and cheers, former colleagues turned comrades-in-arms slowly marched away from Wharf Road, in Ponders End – and round the corner to the pub.

The group expressed a mixture of feelings – relief that they had secured the deal from their formal bosses, happiness that their protest succeed, fear for the future and sadness in saying goodbye to their past.

Matt Goldsmith, 40, from Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, said: “I worked here for 20 years and I never thought it would end the way it did.

“I think it’s absolutely fantastic that people just stood up and said no. We only wanted to be treated fairly, we didn’t want any more, any less and it’s turned out well.

“But it’s difficult now because I’ve spent half my life in this plant. The most worrying thing is all those jobs have gone out of Enfield.”

For many of the workers, Visteon, and its former owners Ford, had been their only, or second employer.

Former group leader and protest organiser, Sharon Steele, 45, said “When I first started in Enfield you had industry like Bellings, GE Electrics, Fergusons, there were so many places to work. You’d leave jobs at Bellings or Small Arms and walk into another one. Now it’s all retail parks.

“When people wake up tomorrow they’re going to realise they have nothing to do.”

Debra Narey, 47, of Dunnock Close, Edmonton, one of four women who organised food runs, dished out picket shifts and ensured donated money was shared evenly, said she would need a few weeks off to “get her head round everything”.

Fellow organiser, Gillian Howard, 50, from Cheshunt had spent 30 years at the plant.

“We were just gobsmacked when they told us. When someone comes along and says you’re out, pack your bags, you’re shocked.”

She was one of several who said the protest had brought the group closer together.

“We were like a big family,” she said. “You got to know people better rather than talking about what was on TV last night. You go to find out about people and how difficult it was for them. We’ve all got names and addresses and will be contacting one another.”

Unite convener, Kevin Nolan, said: “There’s a lot of mixed feelings. I think tomorrow reality will sort of kick in.”

Earlier he made an impassioned speech thanking everyone who had helped, from Visteon colleagues in Belfast, Unite and other unions and MPs Gerry Adams and Angela Smith, to local hire firm GGH Hire who supplied generators and portaloos.

He added: “Everyone in the community has been fantastic and the local papers have been really good and supportive to us too.”