From delivering post to collecting beer

FROM being a postman with Royal Mail in England to owning three properties in the United Kingdom and one in Port Alfred is the success story of popular local resident, Roy Bushell.

MEMORABILIA: Roy Bushell, who worked as a postman in Britain for almost nine years. He is seen here with one of a set of four volumes written by Sir Winston Churchill on the Great War Picture: BOB FORD

But it has been a long hard struggle to achieve this.

Born in Zambia, but brought up in Bulawayo in Zimbabwe, Bushell first made his mark in life as a golfer at a tender age. During his teen years, he represented the then Southern Rhodesian junior team for two years, captaining the side in his last year, playing off a scratch handicap. During those years, he played alongside the famous Nick Price when he won the world junior championships.

After leaving school, Bushell fought in the bush war in Zimbabwe, where he served in the army’s artillery regiment.

Once the war ended and Robert Mugabe had taken over the country, Bushell moved to South Africa, where he worked for several years until he was retrenched. He then had to make a decision and he moved to England on an Irish passport and without much money or qualifications in 2004.

“I heard one could make good money by working for Royal Mail provided you were prepared to work hard,” he said. So he applied successfully for a postman’s position in Swindon, Wiltshire, and spent the next nine years delivering post to up to 1 000 properties a day.

He explained that there were plenty of opportunities to work overtime and he took advantage of this to “make as many extra pounds as possible”. His days started at 5am and he often worked for up to 11 hours on a shift, covering up to 12km come rain, hail or snow. The bag he carried weighed up to 16kg and he would deliver up to 12 of these in a day.

Ironically, there were many South Africans and Zimbabweans living on his daily route in Swindon and he befriended many of them. Traditionally, as is the case of all postmen throughout the world, his biggest curse on his rounds was getting past residents’ dogs.

“I remember having a close call with an Alsatian and a pack of five Jack Russells – they were the smallest, but the most vicious,” he smiled.

Meanwhile, through sheer hard work and saving, Bushell had built up sufficient funds to buy three houses in England. But by 2013, he and his wife, Lee-Anne had had enough and wanted to return to South Africa. They sold one of their properties and settled in Port Alfred because they liked the town and found the people friendly.

“We haven’t looked back since then,” he added. His wife joined a local estate agency and Bushell got the spinoff from this as he often did repairs and maintenance on houses that were on the market. As a result of this he still does this today for people wanting work done to their properties in Port Alfred.

For the past 20 years, Bushell’s hobby has been to gather old collectables and military memorabilia for pubs he has always had in his various homes. Now, finally settled in Port Alfred and able to concentrate on this seriously, he has built himself a pub in his Smith Street home most men would die for. Here he has been able to display his thousands of items, many of which have a story to tell. He has concentrated on collecting beer bottles (all still unopened), caps and ties.

He estimates that he has about 300 bottles of beer from all parts of the world including China, Singapore, America, Canada, South America and most of the European countries. Perhaps, the most special and unusual one he has in his collection comes all the way from Katmandu in the Himalayas. He also has a bottle of Lion beer brewed in 1974 especially to celebrate 150 years of Lion Lager in South Africa. All bottles still have their original labels on them.

Over and above these, his library of books, all hard cover, amount to some 2 500 and are mainly autobiographies. Among these are a set of four written by the famous British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, on the Great War. He explained that he bought these at a car boot sale while still in England for the princely sum on 10 pounds. He has since been offered R18 000 unseen by an antique dealer.

BOB FORD

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