Karrl Richardson G7AAY
I was born in April 1969. I live with my Wife Rachael and our dog Gaius in Northampton which is a large market town, civil parish non-metropolitan district and the county town of Northamptonshire in the East Midlands region of England. It lies on the River Nene, 60 miles north-west of London and 50 miles south-east of Birmingham. It’s one of the largest towns in England, it had a population of 212,100 at the 2011 census.
My first job after leaving School was at a local garage and distribution hub for the Rover Group. I worked in the parts department picking parts for both the internal workshop and also for onward delivery to other local garages and retail outlets. This job lasted about a year as the company lost the Rover franchise and the distribution hub was closed.
Northamptonshire Hospitals Linen Service unit
I was employed immediately by a recruitment agency who were seeking operatives to work in a busy Hospital Laundry. Over a period of six months or so I was trained and worked in all the various areas of the Laundry. Sorting the dirty laundry into hoppers so it could be washed, operating huge Tumble driers, Working as part of a team feeding machines with the clean laundry that Ironed and then folded the items.
Hand folding Towels, Blankets and other items that could not be ironed in the machines
It was whilst I was working in the dispatch area that I realised I wanted to drive and so pestered the transport manager to let me have a go in the lorries that collected the soiled linen and returned the clean linen back again. It was a small team consisting of five 7.5T box lorries (Three Bedford TK’s, Two Mercedes 814 and a 17T Renault.
One Saturday I was given the opportunity to go with the transport manager and drive one of the Bedford Lorry’s to a local hospital and help load it with soiled linen, after that I was taken out with the other drivers so I could learn all the delivery and collection points at the hospitals in Northampton, Kettering, Wellingborough Milton Keynes, Daventry and Banbury. Once I knew all the points I became relief driver filling in for holidays and sickness.
One of the drivers retired and I was moved up to full time driver. One of the aging Bedford TK’s was handed over to me. A year or so later I was placed on a course so I could get my HGV license as the Laundry had decided to replace the aging fleet of 7.5 T vehicles with brand new 17T vehicles allowing us to offer a more efficient service as we could fit more onto the vehicles reducing the visits to the major hospitals from two per day to a single visit also freeing up time to increase our services to further a field Health Authorities.
I passed My HGV Class 1 licence and the new vehicles were delivered I replaced my aging Bedford TK with a brand new MAN 17.192 Rigid.
The laundry won the contract to supply Luton and Dunstable General and also Bedford Hospital we also took on fast turnaround loads from hospitals further afield, Wakefield, Watford.
The Local Health Authority started selling off land and hospitals that were to expensive to maintain. The hospital and grounds the Laundry sat in was Sold, the Laundry Closed and again I was jobless.
BRS Taskforce ‘Northampton’
But this time I knew what I wanted to do and also had a class1 HGV licence, In the early 1990’s The Northampton BRS Taskforce were advertising for drivers, after an interview I was employed.
My First posting lasted about six months was driving an 18T rigid delivering Ford car parts to garages in and around the Nottingham and Grantham areas, From there I drove a 7.5T rigid delivering all types of Electric Lighting (Bulbs, cables, switches etc to retail outlets all over the SouthEast. I would leave the depot in Northampton on Monday morning with around 200 drops we was given four days to complete all the deliveries. The first few weeks were hard work as you had to learn how to read the delivery notes and what each box, item was and also where the various stores were located, There was no Sat Nav or Google maps in the 1990’s so you had to rely on map books and asking about the next drop. As I was away from the depot for three nights i had to sleep in the cab. which was also a new experience. After that contract ended. I had a mix of driving for Mothercare, Next, M&S rigid vehicles and on day runs. I was was trained on Snow Plows, Gritters, de-mount boxes A -Frame and Centre Axle drawbars, Hi Ab cranes. Moffatt Vehicle mounted forklifts. I also Took and passed the ADR exam in tanks and packages for all groups except nuclear.
the Local BRS Contracts operation needed a driver on Centre axle Draw bar for its Camping Gaz contract for holiday and sick cover So I was trained and placed onto that Contract for what turned out to be about four months this again involved sleeping in the cab on nights out, delivering Camping Gaz supplies to Retail and camping sites all over the UK, Wales and Scotland.
It was after that I was sent to drive at Corby Chilled distribution, They ran a fleet of Rigid and Articulated vehicles delivering chilled goods to Tesco, Sainsburys, Morrison Chilled Distribution Centres and many little Lunch time sandwich operators. This was my first real time driving Class 1 Articulated vehicles, The vehicles were loaded at the start of the shift and you would go out to a couple of Chilled distribution centres in the UK and then on the way back you would collect chilled goods that were to be delivered the following day. This was one of my favourite contracts to work on. The vehicles were all brand new and clean, I had the same vehicle most of the time and also the same route most days as well.
As BRS Taskforce supplied drivers to cover Holidays and Sickness, sometimes if the timing was right you could end up at the same customer for a few months other time you would get a single day or night. By this time I had been working for BRS for a couple of years and was asked if I would like to help in the office and learn that side of the business as well. The main point of that was to train people who could then not only cover the driving but also the help in the office, talking to drivers, recruitment, Talking to customers and taking bookings for drivers. I was sent on a driver Assessment Course so I could be involved in the training of new drivers and part of the recruitment team. But this meant that I was removed from the normal driving duties as I was spending more time helping in the office. BRS Taskforce was also planning a new computer system to replace it’s fully paper driven activities, as I had an interest in Computer and electronics I was placed on the newly formed IT team to assist with requirements, Testing and then training the new system to all the locations around the UK. During 1999 BRS Group Taskforce and Truck Rental was being Sold. Truck Rental was taken by Volvo Trucks, BRS Taskforce was bought by one of the major high street agencies.
Isotrak / Connexas / AddSecure
I saw an advert for an implementation manager / trainer in the internal newsletter for a new section of the business that was starting up Isotrak. After an interview and a short wait I moved over and switched from trucks and sleeping in Cabs to staying in nice hotels all over the UK as we rolled out, trained office staff and drivers on the Isotrak systems. whilst at the Customer Sites we provided full system training to all drivers and office staff. Tesco Distribution, Sainsburys, Morrisons Asda Royal Mail Network all bought into the Isotrak system we would spend on average four or five weeks supporting and training staff at each site and then move onto the next.
The tracking and data (Telematics) was all a very new concept and equipment was evolving. Which led to many visits to site to show the updated technology and new office systems. Isotrak also invested in an internal system application testing and support team. I moved to that team which meant I became office based but with this I could get home every night.
As the Telematics, Route planning and other technologies were picking up pace it meant that the solution was changing and required a lot of testing to make sure our solution could be introduced to a customer without any problems whilst either integrating with their own systems or removing their office staff for lengthy training days.
The Isotrak brand was evolving and moving outwards into Europe then Australia and North America.
The next major change was in 2017 when Isotrak merged with Verilocation and became Connexas. Both companies had to make some redundancies and the Isotrak offices in Milton Keynes Closed the remaining staff moved / relocated to Northampton Offices, this was a great step for me as it reduced my daily commute by 60 plus miles to around 10 miles per day. I started cycling the 5 miles each way from home to the office, only taking the car if the weather was unsuitable or I was visiting customer sites.
In October 2018 I had a major stroke this led to a week stay in the acute stroke ward at our local general hospital. I left the hospital confused, unable to walk or use my left arm or hand.
With daily physio and support from my wife and the local Community Stroke team, I gained the use of my arm and hand and then learnt to walk again. 2019 flew by as I recovered and started back to work a couple hours a day. it took about six months before I was able to do a full week. I also had regular appointments with physio, doctors blood tests. to ensure that I was healing in the correct way. It took 18 months before my left side peripheral vision was good enough to pass the DVLA eye test.
2020 Saw Covid 19 and the changes that this brought to the world. Like a large number of companies all the staff were asked to work from home, which created it’s own problems. I was then furloughed for two months along with a lot of other employees. Not being allowed to work I tried to get back into a few of my hobbies.