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This week saw the end of an era as Campbeltown man Jimmy Robertson spent his final day behind the wheel of Kintyre’s bin lorry.
Jimmy began his career with Argyll and Bute Council more than 30 years ago, starting out on the streets with a barrow. Over the years, he took on various roles including operating a multi-lifter truck, a mechanical road sweeper and a skip lorry, as well as working in the plant, before landing the role of HGV class 2 driver of the bin lorry from which he is retiring.
Although his retirement officially begins on his 65th birthday on March 17, Jimmy has annual leave to take, so his last working day was Tuesday.
‘I loved my job from my first day to my last,’ said Jimmy, who lives in Crosshill Avenue. ‘My very first boss was Richard Kelly, and he taught me everything. When you’ve got a good boss at the start and you’re taught well, that’s a big help.’
As driver of the bin lorry, Jimmy travelled to villages the length and breadth of Kintyre, as well as Gigha, where he built relationships with members of each community.
‘I’ll miss being out and about round the countryside,’ he said. ‘I’ll miss seeing everybody and being part of their lives. Everybody in Kintyre has been really kind to us, this last year in particular.’
Jimmy explained that the Covid-19 pandemic, throughout which he worked, presented certain challenges, with some colleagues having to be furloughed and other logistical issues like ensuring workers were appropriately distanced from each other.
He added: ‘When the recycling place closed, the bin lorry went from doing three-weekly collections to two-weekly collections, and it was quite hard going. We were working long days and it was harder than usual.’
Despite the challenges, the pandemic also has shown Jimmy and his colleagues how much the community values their essential work.
‘All the children were at their windows, waving at us, and drawing posters for us,’ Jimmy said. ‘It was nice to feel appreciated by everybody.
‘Wholeheartedly, the generosity and kindness of the people of Campbeltown and surrounding areas has really been exceptional and that’s what I’ll miss most.’
He will also miss his colleagues, particularly loaders John Mason and Alex Black, with whom Jimmy has worked for more than 20 years.
‘It will be funny not to be going in each morning, joking with the boys,’ he said. ‘We were a great team but it’s nice to see younger generations coming into the job.’
Asked what he has planned for his retirement, ‘DIY enthusiast’ Jimmy, who has two sons, five grandchildren and a great-granddaughter, said: ‘I’ll have plenty of jobs to do for the family, and it’ll be great to have more time for them as well.’
Jim Smith, head of roads and infrastructure services at Argyll and Bute Council, told the Courier: ‘Jimmy has been a valued member of the Kintyre team. We’ve always appreciated his dedication, which showed as he worked tirelessly right through the first lockdown. He takes pride in his job and will be sorely missed. We wish him all the best in his well-deserved retirement and offer our sincere thanks for his service.’
In a final touching gesture, Jimmy donated a litter-picker and some gloves and binbags he no longer requires to Lori Silvan, the Clachan woman who has embarked on a campaign to tidy up Argyll’s roadside verges.
He said: ‘She’s doing a great job. It’s nice that there are people out there doing things like that to improve the area.’