AFTER 12 years behind the wheel of a Hastings/Macleay Community Transport vehicle, local Gordon Pelling has decided to call it a day and retire for a second time.
"I'll be 80 in September, and I just think the time is right to take a step back and move onto something else," Gordon said.
"It's been a wonderful trip, and very rewarding; I've shared a lot of laughs and a lot of tears with clients; I wouldn't trade any of it for the world.
"When I signed up 12 years ago, I couldn't have anticipated how much of a positive affect this work would have on my life."
After moving from Newcastle and settling in Kempsey during the late 1980s, he opened a cake shop, which he decided to close in 2006 after reaching retirement age.
Gordon didn't sit still for long though, and after less than a year on the sidelines, he saw an AD to be a volunteer driver and jumped at the chance to give back to the community.
"I've driven clients everywhere, Sydney, Newcastle, Port Macquarie, a few trips to Brisbane, all up I would have travelled well over one million kilometres," he said.
"I'll miss them all; you spend so much time travelling around with people, you become part of their lives."
Luckily, everything calmed down, and the rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. The baby was born the next day.Gordon Pelling
Along with his friendships, Gordon says he will take a lot of fond memories, and more than a few interesting stories.
"I think one of my most memorable drives was when I was transporting a pregnant mother," Gordon said.
"We initially made a joke about what would happen if the baby decided to come during the trip, and then it very nearly happened.
"The road was closed, and we were stranded near Kempsey for about four hours, and she started to have pains; I thought that was it, so we put the seats back so she was comfortable and waited to see what would happen.
"Luckily, everything calmed down, and the rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. The baby was born the next day."
With his driving days now firmly in the rear-view mirror, Gordon is looking to renovate his house in Kempsey with his wife and spend more time on his houseboat.
"She's the painter, and I'm the renovator; we will be working on the house for the foreseeable future," he said.
"When I can, I'll get out on the boat; I started working on it when I was 71, took me until I was 76 to finish it.
"It's already seen a lot of use; I've taken cancer survivor groups out on day trips near South West Rocks a few times, the Macleay is truly a wonderful place to see."
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