Britain’s oldest trucker says he’s in it for the long haul as he carries on driving trucks at the grand age of 91.
Sprightly Brian Wilson has no plans to put the brakes on his 70-year career just yet, despite celebrating his birthday.
The grandad is so dedicated to his job that he gets up at 5 a.m. and works up to 12 hours a day delivering goods from his depot in Sheffield, to sites across the country.
Brian, who can still hop up on the back of his truck without assistance to tie down a tarpaulin with rope, says only ill health would stop him from working.
He said: “I don’t even think about giving up, I just carry on while I can, while I feel fit enough. But I think I’ll know when it’s time to call it a day.”
Brian first got behind the wheel of an HGV in 1953 when he started delivering petrol for Esso.
Back then, a gallon of diesel cost less than two shillings – 10p in today’s money. Today a gallon is at profit-munching levels of almost £8 ($9 USD).
And while the current cost of living means Brian might struggle without his income, it’s his love for the job that keeps him going.
The father-of-four first started driving armored trucks during his national service in 1950, when he was stationed in Germany.
After returning home and working for the petrol company, he started working for his father’s haulage company, E. Wilson & Sons.
He eventually took over the firm when his father passed away in the 1970s and has run it ever since.
Brian has racked up millions of miles but currently keeps to “short trips” of around 150 a day, driving on some of his favorite roads in his 10-ton Iveco.
He added: “I used to go down London. The farthest I’ve been is Aberdeen, which was a two-and-a-half-day job. But I’m normally going to Birmingham and Lancashire area.
“I’ve enjoyed visiting different places in England up and down the country. I think when you go up to the lake district, that’s nice.
“When you go up Lancaster way and Windemere, that’s a really nice run. I did London for ten years but that was in my 40s.”
Brian, married to childhood sweetheart Mavis for 69 years, encouraged fellow over-50s back to consider going back to work to share their experience.
He said: “I think people over 50 and 60 have got good experience and the right attitude.
“People are struggling to get truck drivers now. But there’s plenty of work out there if they want it and you want to.”
Life in the fast lane hasn’t been all plane sailing for Brian, who said he’s had numerous close calls with other motorists, leaving him thankful to be alive.
He said: “I’ve had some near-bad accidents. One time a truck came across the road and hit the car in front of me. It was on a dual-carriageway.
“It hit the car and just missed me. I was lucky that day.”
Brian also said when he first started his career he had to load and unload his cargo, in contrast to the fairly automated pallet-based systems truckers have these days.
He said: “We used to load up sugar, and we’d have to put 10 tons straight onto the truck. Then you had to deliver it and take it off.
“So when you go to the docks in Liverpool, you’d have to load yourself. But now it’s all pallet work. Younger drivers have got it easy compared to what I have to do.
“I still have to get on the back of the truck and I have to strap it up and rope it up, and then take the sheets off and put the ropes back on.”
Brian said he had no plans to retire but had thought about spending a few months in Thailand with his son once he finally packs it in.
He said: “I’d like to go and visit my lad in Thailand again, and spend two or three months with him when I do retire. There’s nice weather there.
“He’s been there about 15 years. He’s got his own business there.
“I’ve got four lads altogether. There are still two that live at home with us. They never got married, so there’s plenty of company.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker