WEYMOUTH’S longest-serving postman is finally hanging up his bag.
Derek Laidlow is retiring following a career spanning six decades.
From delivering telegrams, establishing himself in communities with his postal rounds, meeting the mail train and Channel Islands’ boats, and sorting letters at the depot in the dead of night, Derek has made his stamp on the Royal Mail.
Derek, who turns 65 at the end of the month, says he will be sad to leave the job after almost 50 years – but is looking forward to spending more time on the golf course.
He has clocked up more years than most because changes a few years ago allowed postal workers to carry on working until the age of 65.
The son of a Whitehead’s factory worker, Derek went to school at All Saints and, following his father’s advice, went for a job with a pension.
He started with the Royal Mail at 16 as a telegram boy, delivering messages on a BSA Bantam motorcycle. At that time, the depot was at Barrack Road.
There were no sat-navs to guide the messengers back then – Derek learnt routes and over the years has built up an unrivalled knowledge of roads in the borough and its surrounding communities.
Talking of his early starts, Derek said: “In my first week, my dad helped to get me up.
“After that, he said: ‘You’re on your own now’. It was never a problem for me after that.”
Derek admits to seeing a lot of changes, including the reduction in the amount of letters and postcards which now go through the mail, but says what hasn’t altered is the respect and time people have for postmen.
He said: “It’s a job where people talk to you and I would say the majority of people you meet have respect for what you do.
“I hope that will continue.
“I found that people were more friendly in the rural areas.”
He added: “With the way things are going I think I’m going at the right time.
“I reckon I’ve had the best of it.
“I’ll still keep in touch with my old colleagues.
“It is like a big family there.”
Derek, of Wyke Regis, has been married to Sue for 25 years.
Between them they have seven children.
Their son Tom, 25, is also a postman.