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Station worker, 82, finally retires after 68 years of working at London Waterloo

Don Buckley, 82, is finally retiring after almost seven decades working at Waterloo station
Don Buckley, 82, is finally retiring after almost seven decades working at Waterloo station (Picture: SWNS)

The train has finally left the station for the UK’s ‘longest serving railway employee’ after nearly 70 years of working at London Waterloo.

Don Buckley, 82, is finally retiring almost seven decades after he started work for South Western Railway (SWR) at the age of 14.

In a career that started in the age of steam, the much-loved character has racked up years of dedicated service, including being a font of all knowledge for anyone needing directions around the city.

He’s seen everything from the great train robber Buster Edwards setting up a flower stall outside following his release from jail in 1975 to scenes from James Bond’s Skyfall and the Bourne Ultimatum being shot at the location.

In recognition of his time pounding the floor of the busy station, Don was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Rail Business Awards two years ago and was given a big send-off by colleagues yesterday.

But his decades-long service nearly never happened, as Don started working at London Waterloo by accident.

When he first arrived in London from his home in County Kerry, Ireland, in 1953 he jumped in a taxi and asked the driver to take him to ‘the big station in London’.

He expected to be taken to Euston, but arrived at Waterloo, which before the pandemic dealt with more than 650,000 passengers a day.

Don arrived in London and asked to be ‘taken to the big station’ (Picture: SWNS)

Too young to be working on the trains, Don started his career as a station message boy and never looked back.

On his retirement, he said: ‘I have loved working at Waterloo for all these years. The station may have changed a lot since the 1950s, but it’s still such a special place and I feel so lucky to have had so many wonderful experiences working here.

‘The people are what make the station special and I will miss my colleagues and customers immensely. While all good things come to an end, Waterloo will always have a very special place in my heart’.

Don’s been praised for his near seven decades of service (Picture: SWNS)

Chico Coulibaly, London Waterloo regional manager at South Western Railway, praised Don as a ‘much-loved’ member of the team.

He said: ‘Don is a well-respected and much-loved member of our team. His wealth of knowledge about the railway, Waterloo and London is unrivalled, and he will be dearly missed by colleagues and customers alike.

‘We would like to take this opportunity to thank Don for all his years of service and the significant contribution he has made at Waterloo. We wish Don all the very best for his retirement.’

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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