Stuart James' beloved electric delivery van, Elmo.

A day in the life of a driver

The best part of my day is seeing regular customers, chewing the fat with them and putting the world to rights.

Wake up, get out of bed, drag a comb across my head. Well, at 4am, it’s easier to just put a cap on. I make the 15-minute drive to work, unplug Elmo (my electric vehicle has a name, voted for by the Riverford Hive group on Facebook), and make my way into the warehouse to load him up. Once I’ve made sure I have everything, it’s time for a tea – then off I go.

I’ve worked as a Riverford driver for nearly ten years. Whilst I drive the same five rounds from Monday to Friday every week, no two days are ever the same. From shooing away ponies from porch gates in the New Forest, to being checked in to Windsor Castle by armed police, there’s a lot to keep me on my toes.

Take the day I had recently. If something could go wrong, it invariably did. I rocked up to work and found that Elmo’s charger had developed a fault overnight. I only had about 140 miles of charge. My round is 120 miles, so I had enough… just. Then, as soon as I began loading up, a bottle of oat milk slipped out of my hand. Doh! Bad things always come in threes, so I spent the drive wondering what the third would be. Turns out it can be many more than three! The next few drops all had road closures, wrong delivery instructions, or wrong addresses, requiring lots of calls to one of our team managers, Mickey, to sort out – as well as making me keep a nervous eye on the mileage. But in the end, everyone got what they ordered (bar one oat milk), and I finished with 16 miles of power left. Smashed it.

I’m quite lucky in that for the last seven to eight years, my rounds haven’t ever been changed and moved to a different driver. As some of you will know, drivers and long-time customers can build up quite a rapport. Naturally, that isn’t possible with everyone, or we’d never finish the rounds.

Some drops are simply too early for hellos; dare I say, waking up to a Riverford delivery is far preferable to being woken up by a Riverford delivery. The best part of my day, though, is seeing regulars Jo, Helen, Julie, Derek, and Sandra (to name but a few), chewing the fat with them and putting the world to rights. Add to that my fellow drivers, who are, in my humble opinion, the best delivery team in the land, and you have the perfect recipe for an honest day’s work.


Leave a Reply

  1. I so agree, as a customer, both that it’s wonderful to exchange friendly moments with the regular driver, and that now it arrives at 4 am I do prefer my sleep. I always leave the porch light on, I hope it makes it easier for them. The only sad thing is it means, since the departure of our local franchisee, I’ve never ever met the person. It’s tricky to express in delivery instructions, ” THEY used to zip up the cool bag with the milk so why can’t you?” without seeming unreasonable. But every time I pass the Sacrewell Riverford entrance on the A1 South, [near [Peterborough] I say aloud, “Hello Riverford!”

  2. The first I noticed about ‘Live Life on the Veg’ was a van passing our door in Newcastle upon Tyne. That is a back-handed way of complementing the designers, as there are many commercial vehicles passing but this one thankfully attracted my attention.

    There’s always been a North-South divide in the UK and there’s no improvement with the claim of ‘Levelling up’. I haven’t seen any advertising of the business locally.

    I have followed Hugh and River Cottage for a long time so seeing the link here was immediately understandable. I hope more development of the business happens in this area as we are surrounded by farmland on every side. Keep up the good work.

    1. Woops I pressed the button too soon!

      Continuing my comment, some of your readers may not be aware that this city has the highest number of foodbanks in the UK. Even people doing two jobs to survive are struggling. Our local OLIO system (relying on fantastic volunteers) is vibrant in its mission to reduce food waste from supermarkets and the North-east has 28% OF THE POPULATION HAVING NO ACCESS TO THE INTERNET.
      It follows therefore that online businesses like this one won’t reach everyone.

      There certainly is a huge need to communicate the Wicked Leeks values to all areas of the population in whatever way possible if real change is to be achieved.


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