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82-year-old lorry boss still teaching new drivers at Gordon Springate Transport Training Services in Detling

By William Janes

A man who has taught thousands of HGV drivers is still getting behind the wheel of his lorries aged 82.

And the company bearing his name, Gordon Springate Transport Training Services is also celebrating 40 years in business.

The firm was officially created at the Kent County Showground, Detling, in 1979 but started life earlier than this.

Gordon Springate in his cab
Gordon Springate in his cab

Mr Springate previously worked for the Road Transport Industry Training Board (RTITB) for 10 years, teaching hauliers who worked at the now defunct Kimberly-Clark paper mill in Larkfield.

The RTITB contract with the factory ended but the ambitious Gillingham resident decided to strike out on his own.

He became an employee of the paper mill and bought his first lorry with a bank loan. He now has eight employees and business is still going strong.

Over the decades the firm has trained somewhere in the region of 2,800 drivers in every kind of big vehicle including lorries, buses, cranes, and huge mobile homes.

Gordon in the early days
Gordon in the early days

Some of the most notable trainees were grooms from Buckingham Palace who he taught how to properly handle horse boxes to transport animals belonging to the Royal Family.

The HGV master says he is full of pride to see the business he has been so committed to come so far.

“I’m single, I’m not married, I live on my own and don’t have any relatives but it’s nice to see the company still going even after all this time; it’s like my family,” he said.

While the company has been run by Julie McDonald since 1993, at the age of 82 Mr Springate is still getting behind the wheel to teach newcomers.

Gorden pictured with trainee Paula in 1974
Gorden pictured with trainee Paula in 1974

Some of his clients tell him he trained their parents and grandparents.

It has been suggested he is the oldest HGV driver trainer in the country, possibly even the world.

He has witnessed a lot of changes and says he is now seeing more women join the ranks.

The 40th anniversary of the training services company is this month and he says he will enjoy a low-key celebration.

He’s also toying with the idea giving one of the company’s lorries a commemorative paint-job for the occasion.

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