Derek Loft

I was born just over the border in Little Bedwyn. My father was a farm worker and my mother a stay at home “housewife” as they were called in those days. Apart from a couple of years we stayed in the Bedwyn area. My schooling was Little Bedwyn Primary School and then Marlborough Grammar School. The only good thing that came out of my secondary education is that I first met a girl who a few years later would become my wife, Di.

After leaving school and being like most 16-year olds I did not have a clue what job I wanted to do. So, after trying my hand at lorry maintenance, warehousing, and making animal feed, I trained to be a TV engineer, a profession I continued for 22 years. At the age of 49, redundancy came along for the second time and, being fed up with “managers” telling me what to do, I joined the ranks of the self-employed and bought a van. Di was supportive in this move; the only stipulation was if you get a van it cannot be white!! That was nearly twenty years ago and 4 blue and 1 red van later, I am still going.

The on-the-job training for my second career was a steep learning curve. The phone would go usually about 2pm with the words of “Make your way up” and it would be off to Ellesmere Port to load with a destination of Frankfurt or Bochum in Germany. The only problem was you had to be there at 8am the following morning. The European work continued until mid-2005 when the price dropped out of the market due to the expansion of the EU. Work then became more local, well mostly just within the UK, with the occasional trip across the water. My work now centres on moving large banners around the country, small event work, and some storage for a charity Christmas Card outlet.

Although perhaps I should be slowing down, the lockdowns have told me this is not something I wish to do at this time.

I have one or two interests away from my work. I am the Secretary of the Royal British Legion and within this role I help the Town Council with the Remembrance Day parade. I am on the allotment holders committee. I joined the Chamber about 10 years ago, and became a member of the committee about 4 years ago. There is a lesson to learn about leaving the meeting to get a beer because on return you have been elected as Treasurer. At the same time the Extravaganza needed somebody to organise the street, so guess what? I got that job as well. It was a hard act to follow.

I am also kept delightfully busy with 2 children and 5 grandchildren.