After emptying six million bins, retiring Paul salutes final pick-up

Last round after 27 years

Thursday, 2nd June — By Dan Carrier

camden Image 2022-05-30 at 9.58.35 AM (4)

Paul Lewis had an emotional last day as a refuse collector

IT was the grand finale – the end of an epic 27-year journey which saw an estimated 6.3 million bins emptied.

And, as the time came for bin man Paul Lewis to hang up the Donkey jacket and put the heavy duty gloves away, he could not contain his excitement as he watched the cast-off contents of a wheelie bin on Hillway, Highgate head into the belly of a rubbish truck for the very last time.

On one knee, he took off his cap and blessed it as it disappeared.

Watch the end to his final shift

Paul – known by so many for his smiling face and politeness as he emptied residents’ bins – joined Camden Council in 1995 and retired last week.

Friends on his round came to say thank you and farewell, and a party at the Lord John Russell pub in Marchmont Street, King’s Cross on Saturday night gave them the chance to toast his good health.

Paul, who is profoundly deaf, went to Haverstock School, Chalk Farm, starting in 1966 and remembering the World Cup fever that gripped the place.
After leaving school, he worked for 10 years in a book binding factory and a printing firm, before joining Camden Council’s Onyx services team, as it was then called.

He said: “I did a year as an agency worker and loved it, so I stayed on.”

He won’t miss the early starts on cold winter days, but said his colleagues had made it bearable.

Colleagues have loved working with Paul Lewis

He said: “I have been working all my life, since I left school – that is a 51 year shift, so I am ready for a break.

“I will never forget all the man­agers, work mates and customers I’ve given all my life to. I have been a hard worker and done 27 years on the bins – a good amount of time and have so many incredible happy memories.

“I will miss all the guys I work with, and all the customers who have been so kind down the years.

“It does feel like a long time now, so that must mean I am ready for a happy retirement.”

Paul, 67, is moving to a new house in Herefordshire but plans to return to catch up with his former colleagues and friends on a regular basis.

He added: “I’ll be back for a street party or two, for sure.

“I just won’t be worrying about who is going to pick up all the rubbish at the end of the day.”

Camden’s environment chief Councillor Adam Harrison said: “I would like to congratulate Paul for reaching such an amazing milestone
of public service to the residents of Camden.

“Over the past 27 years Paul worked as a loader on various waste collection rounds most recently in Highgate and Hampstead, diligently serving Camden’s com­munities in the often unsung but essen­tial task of col­lecting our waste and recy­cling.”

He added: “I wish the very best on his well-earned retirement and future endeavours.”

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