After serving forty-five years with the Marconi Company, I had the very good fortune to be made redundant.
Having time on my hands I looked for a part time job, with less responsibility, but with some kind of social service.
The Essex County Social Services were looking for a part time driver to ferry elderly people, like me now, to various Day Centres and other events. Having never taken a Driving Test, I was not the obvious candidate, so I was obliged to take a test in an ambulance (which I had never driven before). Fortunately, my 45 year’s driving experience paid off and I landed the job.
Two or three days each week, I was provided with an escort and given a list of people to pick up, with instructions where to deliver them. During the winter months it was usually to one of a number of local Day centres, where the elderly enjoyed fellowship, a meal and some form of entertainment. We would then take them home in the afternoon.
During the summer months we would take them to the coast for the day, or to a large country house. On these occasions we needed an extra wheel chair pusher. One of the WVS day centre ladies volunteered her husband, Peter, to do this for us,
Once we were visiting a large country house near Chelmsford and Peter was on hand to help with the wheel chairs. He seemed to know this particular venue and he took me on a guided tour of the garden. he then said “let’s go in for a coffee”. It was only then that it dawned on me that this was his house and on entering the hall I noticed an illuminated scroll signed by Her Majesty, to Air Vice Marshall Sir Peter Collins!
I doubt if any of our clients ever realized they were being pushed along the sea front of Frinton or Clacton by a retired Air Vice Marshall, the second highest rank in the RAF.