Farewell to two of Islington’s finest

A POPULAR caretaker and a hard-working binman have retired after giving almost 80 years of public service to the people of Islington between them.

Tony Buckley, 63, resident caretaker at the Hyde Village Estate, in Market Road, Holloway, officially hangs up his brush today (Thursday) after 30 years working for the council and housing firm Hyde.

And Gerald O’Brien, 66, finished his last bin round on Friday after 47 years of collecting rubbish from homes across Archway, Highgate, Highbury and Islington.

Estate caretaker Mr Buckley, who was given a bottle of champagne, a digital camera and a special “golden broom” at a farewell party at neighbouring Goodinge Community Centre, said: “I have known so many people for such a long time that they are all friends and neighbours to me. Working on Hyde Village Estate has been a dream, a joy to come to work”.

Doris Hester, secretary of the estate’s community association, added: “Tony knows the residents on the estate, he is like a member of the family and he will be missed terribly.”

Binman Mr O’Brien, from Barnet, spent 35 years working in refuse collection “gangs” for Islington Council and a further 12 for private contractor Enterprise.

Both organisations presented him with a combined cheque for �1,000 in a send-off ceremony at Islington Household Reuse and Recycling Centre, in Cottage Road, Holloway, last week. Mr O’Brien said: “I didn’t expect that, it was very kind. I’m still sort of fit – I’d have done more but they didn’t want me to stay on!

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“The job used to be all metal dustbins and cinders from all the fires but today it’s a lot harder, they changed the rounds and they’re bigger and more uneven.

“But I still know a lot of people up in Archway and around the Arsenal.

“The gang I’ve been on for the last three years has been a very good crew. We have a good laugh and it’s made the time go fast. It’s like a democracy – we share the work around.”