By Hayley Pugh
Britain’s oldest milkman is celebrating his 90th birthday today (Friday, July 6) and has no plans to retire.
Derek Arch, from Coventry, has proved he really is the cream of the crop after delivering milk for 76 years – even getting up at the crack of dawn on his 90th birthday to do his round.
Incredibly Derek started his first milk round as a schoolboy at just 14-years-old in 1943 – during the second world war.
Despite cutting back his workload in recent years, the pensioner still does a round starting at 5.30am every morning and collects bottles and money from customers on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
The 90-year-old said: “Some of my customers I’ve served for 60 years and they’re no longer just customers they’re friends.
“People say there are millions of lonely people in society but communities have broken down.
“We’ve saved about four elderly people’s lives in our time, they’ve been collapsed behind the door and I’ve found them when I’ve gone round to deliver the milk.
“I have no plans to retire. I won’t stop until I drop down dead on someone’s doorstep. Either that or I’ll hand in my notice today and give them 10 years to find someone else.
“Anyway, my wife likes it because it keeps me out of the house.”
“I don’t have any plans to celebrate my birthday either, it’s just another day. I will probably take the kids out for a meal. And we’re hoping to go away for a couple of nights next week.”
The milk industry has been in the Arch family for four generations, with Derek’s grandfather founding the business, D Arch and Son, in 1873.
Derek first starting delivering milk on his pushbike as a teenager but now continues to do the rounds alongside his son Stuart on the 1950’s milk float which he’s had for more than 30 years.
Derek’s wife Betty, 88, also plays her part by sorting out the business accounts.
Derek added: “I would stop at the customer’s houses, and walk straight in. No-one locked their doors in those days.
“Everything was much simpler back then.”
Derek’s son Stuart, 59, said: “I am proud of Dad for the way he works – I hope I’m still delivering pints when I’m his age.
“He won’t stop, he’ll keep going until he can’t anymore.
“It keeps him fit and active, keeps his mind occupied and keeps him young.
“As you can imagine he is well known in the area and his customers love to see him out and about.
“We’ve seen a around a five per cent increase in business recently with people turning to glass bottles to help the environment. Business is booming.”