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Cornard People

Page updated - 19 February 2005

 

Gerry Mills

Gerry Mills has lived in Great Cornard since 1963.  He was born in Long Melford where his father swept chimneys and charged people according to their means - which usually also coincided with the width of their chimney.  His most expensive clients were Kentwell Hall and Melford Hall.

 

Many people may remember Gerry as the sociable and helpful milkman who always delivered the milk on time.  He retired from Byhams in 1995 after having worked there for 25 years, three days after his 65th birthday - "3 days past my sell-by date" he says.  During his time at Byhams he had twenty rounds and knowing them all so thoroughly was often called on when someone was sick or on holiday.  He remembers that for some elderly and infirm people he was the only person they saw all week.

 

To see Gerry with his cheerful and friendly manner you would never guess the tragedies in his background, including the loss of two sons, one as a baby and one as an adult.  He now lives with his partner Pam who he says "has put me on my feet".  He has a daughter living in Cornard and a son at Wivenhoe.

 

Gerry is a well-known figure on the allotments in Blackhouse Lane where for 20 years he cultivated first five plots but now three.  They provide all the vegetables Gerry and Pam need for the year and of course it is all organic although it is now rooster pellets that he uses and not the 'bullock muck' that Mr. Steed used to deliver by the lorry load.  Since retiring Gerry has bought a rotavator which makes life a bit easier but he remembers having to spread the muck by fork -in the moonlight at times!  Gerry enjoys the companionship of the other allotment holders and reckons there is nothing more relaxing than having a chat and sharing a joke over a drink when the digging is finished.  He has entered the Cornard and Chilton Horticultural Show only three times but has on each occasion won cups for his exhibits.

 

Gerry was asked by Sudbury Town Taxis to work in their control room when he retired, as he knew the area so well.  Looking at his pension and realising that it would not go far he took up their offer.  He left Byhams on Saturday and started work again on Monday.  He still works a 32-hour week even though he is now in his 73rd year.

 

Gerry likes people and does not agree with other older residents who regret the influx of new folk into the area.  He has met some wonderful people on his rounds and has seen many of the families that came in with the London overspill thrive and prosper in Cornard.

 

Gerry still finds time apart from working and cultivating his allotments to take his dog Gemma for long walks.   She is 11 years old and so devoted to her master that when Pam tries to take her out she gets to the top of the road and refuses to go any further.

 

Gerry is a person that makes you feel better for having spoken to him.  Gerry, may you lead a long and happy life in Cornard and, on your way, please continue to cheer up those of us who meet you.

 

Interview by Joan Herbert (Cornard News) 03 February 2003