50 years and counting : an interview with Del Warner
At Parcelforce Worldwide, we’re pretty proud of the fact that so many of our employees go on to stay with us for a long time. In our workforce, we’ve got staff who’ve celebrated 10, 20 and even 30 years at the company. But none have been with us as long as Del Warner, who marked his 50th anniversary earlier this year.
Since starting with Royal Mail at the tender age of 17 in 1966, he’s climbed the ranks from telegram boy to driver, and moved sideways to work in management and training. His Parcelforce Worldwide career has even seen him get up close to some famous faces.
We’ve chatted with Del to find out from the man himself what his highlights have been from the last half-century, and, in his eyes, what makes our brand so special.
So, Del, can you remember your first day at work?
My first day started with training. In those days, you had a whole week’s training – you were taken around by one of the senior postmen, and he’d show you all the different departments: delivery, collection, working on the station platforms. They left nothing out! You’d be in different places depending on what duty you did – early duties, afternoons or nights – so he had to show us around the whole office.
You had some early starts, then?
Oh yes, we did – 5am was our earliest, and we used to have some midnight starts when we were on nights. But that was just part of the job. Because I was new, I just got on with it. I had just turned 17 – it was a lot to learn!
How has your job evolved over the past 50 years? Have you had many different roles?
It’s changed a lot. Because I had a driving licence, they got me delivering telegrams at first. Then I became a postman, and then a driver. When Parcelforce Worldwide started a network of delivering lots of parcels and driving articulated vehicles, I passed my test and did that until our depot closed in 1992. After that, I reverted back to being a parcel delivery man, but I managed to work my way up to become an area manager in the revenue department. Then I ended up back in the depot as a trainer, and that’s sort of what I do at the moment, as well as deliveries.
Can you sum up your average day?
At the moment, my average day starts at 7am, although I’m always there earlier. I load my van up, take a note of all the places I need to go to, get my collection sheets, and drive for around three quarters of an hour to my first delivery point. I deliver my parcels, do all my collections, and drive back.
Because I only do a short day now, my day’s quite nice! I’m usually home by about 2.30pm, so I can babysit or go shopping with my wife. This is a nice time of my life – I haven’t got to rush around at work all day or all night like I used to. I can take my time and spend time with my family.
What do you love most about working at Parcelforce Worldwide?
I like going out for deliveries and mixing with people. I don’t mind working in the depot, but I do like to be outdoors as well. When you knock on doors, you meet all sorts of people, and I like chatting to them. I think that’s a problem I’ve got – I could do my job a lot quicker if I didn’t chat! Especially where I’m delivering at the moment, which is right out in the countryside – farms and places like that – I get on really well with all the people I deliver to.
We hear you’ve met the Queen – that’s exciting!
Yes – I got an invite to the Windsor Royal Mail delivery office, and I took my family. My little grandson Charlie (who’s only 18 months) had a little bunch of flowers to give to the Queen. He did it all on cue – the cameramen took photos and the both of us were on the evening news. It was a good day.
Last week, I met Prince Charles and Camilla at a reception in Threadneedle Street when Prince Charles unveiled a letterbox, then my wife and I were invited to the House of Lords. This year’s been really good for me! I was lucky because my fiftieth year coincided with the 500 years of Royal Mail. There were all these things going on, so I was able to get involved. It’s been brilliant – not everybody does 50 years!
How has the company changed for the better since you started?
It’s changed a lot, but the job is still a good one, and I think anybody that stays in it a long time like me has said it’s still a good firm to work for. If someone asked me if I thought they should work for Royal Mail, I would definitely say yes. I would have no hesitation in telling them that.
What’s been your work highlight? Any funny stories? Oh, I have lots of funny stories! I’ve met some nice people. I’ve met Dame Judi Dench, Phil Collins and Eric Clapton just by doing deliveries to their houses. Passing my heavy goods driving licence was an occasion, because that was quite a thing to do in those days. I suppose reaching my fiftieth year has been the pinnacle of it all. It was a very big moment.
In your opinion, how do Parcelforce Worldwide go the extra mile for their customers? We’re lucky that we’ve got a good relationship with the Royal Mail side of things – this means that when we deliver parcels, if the customer’s not at home, we can take parcels to the local Post Office. Other courier companies can’t do that. We’ll try you a second and third time, which I think is a really good thing that Parcelforce Worldwide started up.
Finally, do you have any wise words of advice for anyone starting out at Parcelforce Worldwide?
There’s loads of advice I could give, but mainly I’d say just get on with your job! Parcelforce Worldwide is a good company to work for – I’m glad I joined back in 1966.