True grit: End of an era as gritter driver Terry retires after 25 years

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A hard-grafting gritter driver has retired after 25 years keeping roads safe in the Peak District.

Terry Heathcote, 65, joined his father Burt’s gritting route aged 21 driving his beloved AEC Matador.

Grandfather-of-two Terry, of Flash, covered a route of 50 square miles covering Flash, Longnor, Sheen, Hulme End and Newtown before he retired.

Terry, who sub-contracted to Staffordshire County Council, started off with a Foden lorry but also used a Mercedes 4x4 and a Leyland 6x6 during his career.

Though Terry has enjoyed his work he admits he’s getting a little long in the tooth now.

He said: “You had to be on the road for 5am - unless it was really bad when you had to start at 4am.

“You worked until 11am - it didn’t bother you then but I’m 65 now.

“It was alright but when everything started going wrong you were on your own.

“And because you did such long hours you had no time to fix the wagons - you needed lots of spares.”

When not out on the roads during the summer Terry did building work and plant hire - which he still does now.

He has now sold all of his wagons but insists ‘I’m not sad to see them go’.

Terry was presented with a long service certificate by Staffordshire County Council.

Gill Heath, of Staffordshire County Council, said: “I would like to say a huge thanks to Terry for his many years of work in helping to keep our roads safe during the winter months.

“Over the last 25 years Terry has worked alongside and supported our highways crews and winter contractors in helping to keep the roads in the Moorlands clear of snow and ice.

“During this time they have experienced many a difficult winter, often working in dangerous weather conditions, but thanks to them we have been able to keep the roads clear, people safe and the county on the move.”