A North East driver has had his 42 years of sterling service recognised by his employer, parcel carrier Yodel, with a holiday of a lifetime to Mexico.
Ritchie Dresser, who is 63 and lives in Sunderland, started delivering parcels in his home town in 1973 at the age of 21. He has delivered more than a million parcels across the region and for the last 20 years has been based at the carrier’s service centre in Gateshead.
Ritchie covers between 40 and 100 miles on each shift, so relaxing on white sandy beaches, swimming in a lagoon and enjoying the warmth, food and wildlife in Mexico with his wife Stephanie was a world away from the busy North East traffic.
“Yodel offered me a voucher in recognition of my long service and, as my wife has always wanted to go to Mexico, it was perfect,” he said. “Thanks to Yodel, we had the holiday of a lifetime.”
The Gateshead service centre covers an area from Berwick to Peterlee and has expanded rapidly thanks to substantial investment from Yodel. It now delivers in the region of 3.4million parcels a year, 1.2million of which are handled during the busy 12 weeks leading up to Christmas.
“There have been huge changes since I started driving,” said Ritchie who currently covers the Team Valley area.
“Everything has grown and speeded up so much from the number of parcels handled and the volume of traffic to the arrival of internet shopping and new technology.
“We used to do everything on paper but all the drivers now have the very latest hand-held technology to help them plan their rounds, track parcels and capture signatures.”
The speed of delivery has also improved from a standard 28 days back in 1973.
“Recently, I delivered a parcel at 10.30am one Monday morning and the customer couldn’t believe it as she had only ordered the item online at 5pm on the Sunday,” said Ritchie. “I’ve always enjoyed the freedom of being on the road and the contact with my customers. There’s a good atmosphere at the service centre as well including many ‘discussions’ between the Sunderland and Newcastle supporters!” he added.
Dave Stewart, Yodel’s Gateshead services centre manager, said: “There is a great team here at Gateshead including more than 30 drivers and 119 self employed couriers.
“Ritchie has looked after customers all over the North East for 42 years and Yodel wanted to recognise his incredible service.”