65-year-old Clive first started delivering to doorsteps back in the early 1980s when he was working at New Barn Farm in Calbourne. It started off as an evening job, but soon developed into a career that would see him not only deliver to over 1,000 properties at its peak, but save the lives of his loyal customers.
It was around 1987 that Clive purchased the Seaview, Nettlestone and Ryde round from the Faithful Brothers of Bullen Farm. It was such a successful area, partially due to the number of holiday homes, that Clive employed 2 members of staff under the name of ‘Four Winds’ – a trading name that continues to this day.
Clive has prided himself on being an independent milkman throughout his career and such was the success of his business that Unigate made Clive an offer in the mid 1990s. The proposal from the milk delivery giant, which later became known as Dairy Crest, was to take Clive’s East Wight round off his hands and in return offer him the entire West Wight, stretching from Calbourne to The Needles. Clive jumped at the opportunity and for the next 20 years got to build up yet another successful milk round.
Delivering milk may sound a fairly easy task, but Clive’s day begins whilst most people are fast asleep. At 01:00 in the morning he travels across the Island to Coppid Hall Farm at Havenstreet where he collects locally produced milk from H.F. George. He then ventures to the Dairy Crest depot in Newport to collect the crates of milk in glass bottles – something which has been a key selling point for milkman for decades.
Despite having the West Wight round, Mr Hayles says his first stop of the day is Hearn Street in Newport. From here he goes to Porchfield, Newtown, Calbourne, Newbridge, Brook, Hulverstone, Shalfleet, Cranmore and Yarmouth – where he supplies Holdings the paper shop. He then heads to Colwell and Freshwater before passing through the villages of Thorley and Wellow. One last stop is made at Calbourne to finish the round by 07:00 – just as Islanders open the door to collect their milk in time for breakfast.
Sitting down to speak with Island Echo this week, Clive spoke of the numerous times he has saved the lives of his customers and come to the aid of other motorists.
It’s on the Westhill Lane estate in Yarmouth that Clive recalls spotting what he initially thought was bags of rubbish out on the pavement. Delivering 3 times a week Clive gets to know when something is out of place. As he approached he soon realised that it was in fact one of his customers laying on the ground with a head injury. Thankfully, he was able to swiftly call an ambulance and went inside the home to rouse the lady’s husband who was totally unaware his wife had left the house.
In Newbridge, Clive came to the rescue of an elderly lady not once – but twice. On 2 occasions he found her collapsed on the floor suffering from a broken hip.
Around the year 2000, Clive was delivering at Swainston on Middle Road when he heard tyre squeal and a bang. He drove up the road and came across a distressed young lady climbing up the side of a bank. The injured woman explained that 4 others were still in a car that had rolled down the embankment. Clive, in his usual calm and collected manner, alerted the emergency services and went to alert the lady’s grandmother about the accident.
The demise of the milkman across the country is fairly well known, which Clive says has been the case since supermarkets practically started giving away milk in the late 90s. When Clive started his career there were 27 independent milkman on the Island but that thriving number has dwindled over the years to just 1 – Mr Hayles himself.
Clive has enthusiastically said that milk delivery has had its decline and is now on the up, completing a full circle. The past 18 months has seen somewhat of a boom in door step sales thanks to Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II, which has highlighted the blight plastics are having on our environment.
Although Clive Hayles is retiring from the job after almost 4 decades, the West Wight round is set to continue. Paul Bentley from Banbury, Oxfordshire has moved to the Island with his partner and 2 daughters to take over Clive’s well-respected business.
Paul started his round yesterday (Tuesday) under the helpful direction of Clive, who will be accompanying Paul over the next couple of weeks.
Anyone wishing to request a milk delivery can call Paul on 07472747484.
Now Clive has reached retirement age he plans to spend more time at his livery yard in Sandford and attending horse shows across the country.
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