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Three years ago, Graeme and Edwina Nicholls decided a shift ‘‘back home’’ to the South Island was on the cards.
‘‘We had had enough of the North Island.
‘‘We both find the people in the South a lot friendlier and easy to deal with,’’ Mr Nicholls said. They left behind 16 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren and moved to Ranfurly.
‘‘We chose the town for its amenities.
‘‘It’s got a good wee hospital, a nice community feel and I am a keen fly fisherman,’’ he said.
Mr Nicholls (69) said the shift back into work was an easy decision to make. He was forced to take an early retirement when he was 62, due to joint and hip problems.
‘‘But there’s only so much sitting around a man can do in a day. No, retired life just wasn’t for me. I always need to have a project on the go or something to keep my brain ticking over.’’
His next-door neighbour is Cooks Transport driver Rex Thomas and while he was building atop the roof of Mr Thomas’ carport last year, Mr Cook happened to stop in one day and saw potential.
‘‘Hendy offered me a job on the spot.’’
Monday to Thursday Mr Nicholls takes the 30-minute drive to the Cooks Transport yard in Hyde. As a qualified welder ‘‘with all the tickets’’, he has been a handy addition to the Cooks team.
‘‘No day is ever the same. One day I might be fixing a broken gate, the next just general yard work and the next I might be dropping off a diesel tank way out in the hills somewhere. There is never a dull moment, that’s for sure,’’ he said.
‘‘I have got to keep my brain active. I don’t like to sit down. My doctor gave me the green light the other day. He said the day we stop doing things is the day we might as well start digging our own grave and I would have to agree.
‘‘It’s not about the money, for me it’s about keeping fit and in contact with other people.’’
Over the years, Mr Nicholls has worked in various engineering-type jobs.
‘‘I have worked as a stainless steel fabricator and a maintenance fitter. I am lucky with the jobs I have had and the skills I have picked up over all the years. You’ve got to be able to think on your feet. Sometimes it’s about working smarter, not necessarily harder.’’
Hendy Cook, not one to talk to media of any kind, was happy to share his view on Mr Nicholls.
‘‘Graeme has been a real asset to the team. He does a great job and we’re very lucky to have him,’’ he said.
-By Alice Scott