Time to put his feet up? Not for Melvyn!
CCL’s most senior team member, Melvyn Denton, is taking early retirement, at the not-so-tender age of… 77. Yes, that’s not a typo; Melvyn is 77 years young. And for the last 10 years, he’s been a valued member of CCL’s Warehouse team, both at Isleworth and then at Hatton Cross. He’s seen the company grow from its early years, when CCL employed just 7 or 8 people, to the present, and still expanding, enterprise that makes fullest use of a sizable square-footage just a stone’s throw from Heathrow Airport.
It was tough, but we managed to get Melvyn to sit still long enough to tell us a little about what brought him to CCL and what he plans to do with his retirement. If you’re thinking he might be aiming to spend more time in his slippers in front of the TV, you’d be quite wrong! Read on…
Q: What was life like for you as a young man, back in the 50’s and 60’s?
Melvyn: I’ve always been a very outdoor person and back then, I loved my motorbike. I’d go down the coast, go to rallies and such like. I wasn’t a true rocker, but I was more rocker than mod. I was happy-go-lucky. I had two wheels, long hair and loads of mates – and life was great!
I may never have married, but my mother taught me important lessons about how to treat women. I’d like to think that girlfriends and female companions I’ve known over the years have appreciated the work she put in!
Q: What sort of jobs did you do before you came to CCL?
Melvyn: I was born in the war and I first went to work at the age of 15 (it was only in 1972 that the school-leaving age was raised to 16). I started in engineering, but I didn’t much like it – I‘ve always preferred being behind a wheel. So at 17, as early as I could, I got my licence and started driving vans and then lorries. I went on to busses and coaches too – I’ve delivered goods and taken tour parties all over the UK, Ireland and Europe. One way and another, over all the years, I reckon I’ve clocked-up well over a million miles.
Q: You started working for CCL around the time that most people are thinking about retiring. How did that happen?
Melvyn: I was doing a little work for a lady who used to clean at CCL. She got pregnant and was due her maternity leave. She asked me if I’d like to take over her cleaning job for those few months. So that’s where I started.
When she returned to work, Rudee asked me if I’d be able to do a couple of hours a week in the warehouse. One thing led to another and over time I added a few hours here and there. One day, Anj asked me to go to the cargo area at Heathrow, and that ended up being a regular fixture. So my job expanded from the warehouse, to cargo runs, collecting packages and so on. For the first couple of years I worked every single day except Christmas and Boxing Day – and I loved it!
As the company expanded, we added a second and then a third warehouse at the St John’s Road site, and I kept working. Then a few years later we relocated to our much larger facility here at Hatton Cross. It’s been wonderful watching the firm thrive and grow over the years.
Q: What have you enjoyed most about working at CCL?
Melvyn: It’s the attitude and the culture here – it’s very supportive. Everyone makes a mistake every now and again, and if you do something really stupid, you’ll know it! But then it’s forgotten – you learn from it, and move forward.
Rudee and Brian are without a doubt two of the best guvnors I’ve ever worked for. In 2013, I got kidney cancer. It was pretty bad and I was in hospital for seven months – I lost one of my kidneys to it. But when I was out of hospital and well again, the managers got together and got me back into work again, on the DDU’s. This work is based indoors, and there’s no driving, so it was perfect for my altered circumstances. That’s what I’ve been doing ever since.
But that’s what you get at CCL; no-nonsense management and real, genuine support.
Q: What advice would you give to somebody starting work at CCL today?
Melvyn: That’s simple… Don’t play the fool, and don’t get caught being idle. At CCL there’s always something to do, and there’s no excuse to be sitting around. And if you’re not sure about something – ask! Better to double-check than for a parcel to go astray. It might seem like a small thing, but it can have a big impact.
Q: How do you feel about retirement?
Melvyn: I absolutely love working at CCL – I’ve enjoyed coming into work every single day of the last ten years. But the time is right. I’ll definitely miss the work and I’ll miss the people too. Though they shouldn’t think they’ve got rid of me so easily – I expect I’ll drop by every now and again.
But I’ll let you into a secret… there are one or two things I plan to spend a bit more time on in future!
Q: So…. Can you tell us what you’ll be getting up to?
Melvyn: My hobbies are fishing and music, and I’m going to make more time for both.
I’ve always enjoyed spending my weekends fishing. I have a caravan on a farm and I go down there after work on a Friday to fish overnight. I got to know a local fishery too, and when their Bailiff left, I took on the job over the weekends. I’m hoping I’ll be able to do more work at the fishery, now that I’ll have my weekdays free.
As for music – I’ve always loved the music of the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. I’ve got a very wide taste, everything from opera to rockabilly. I don’t do streaming – I can’t keep up with all the online business. Instead, I have a mate with a huge collection of CD’s which he lets me borrow.
Q: You’re 77 and still going strong. So our last question is this… What are your tips for a healthy life?
Melvyn: Staying active is the key, for sure. My job at CCL has kept me very physically active – and strong. I can shift loads of 30-40 kilos easily, and I can still pick up 60 kilos, which is just about my own body weight.
I used to drink alcohol, but I gave it up over 15 years ago, and I’m sure that helps too. I do have a bit of a sugar habit – when I work, I take 3 or 4 teaspoons in my coffee (though that’s lower than the 6 or 7 that I used to like). I burn it off though, so I stay lean.
But the best tip I can offer, is to enjoy your work – that’s great for your health!
We hope you’ll all join us in giving Melvyn a great send-off on Friday, and wishing him a healthy, happy retirement. By the sounds of it, he won’t be slowing down any time soon!