Ipswich: Antoinette – a fan of true grit

IPSWICH: Meet the gritters’ number one fan!

When 75-year-old Antoinette Connor hears anyone complaining about the state of the town’s roads in this weather her blood boils . . . however cold the temperature.

Now she has had an opportunity she’d never expected – and been out with one of the gritting lorries to see just how tough the work can be for the team.

Mrs Connor, of Cauldwell Hall Road, was invited to join gritter staff member Mark Spalding after the team at the borough heard how keen she was on their work.

She said: “I think they’re fantastic. The work they do to keep the roads clear is wonderful. It really isn’t that difficult to get around town – and that’s because these people are working so hard.

“When I hear people complaining that their road is not clear I tell them to think of the gritter drivers. I say ‘How would you like to do that?’ Which quietens them down!

“I’m so excited to be going out in one of the lorries. It’s wonderful.”

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The borough team has been working around the clock to keep the town’s main roads clear – working shifts of 6pm to midnight, and midnight to 6am.

They do the work in addition to their normal work, usually on the refuse collection or other heavy driving jobs for the borough.

Mr Spalding said: “We have shifts on duty every day in this weather, including Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, whatever.

“Last Christmas Day I was here in the afternoon filling up the lorries to go out in the evening so people could get around safely.

“Sometimes we will work midnight to 6am and turn straight round and go out on the bin lorries.”

Driving a gritter requires considerable training.

To ensure they are safe, all drivers have to requalify with City and Guilds every five years.

He added: “It is quite a tough job at times. It is good to know when people like Antoinette appreciate what we do.”

n Do you have an unusual job you want to tell us about? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.