High Barnet's celebrated road sweeper Dougie Shrubb, who carried on working long after retiring age, has finally called it a day at the age of 71.
Fond farewells were the order of the day along the High Street as he emptied bins and cleared up litter for one last time.
“I decided that just before Christmas was the time to pack it in,” said Douglas Shrubb, or Dougie as he is known to one and all.
“I couldn’t face another winter with slippery roads and pavements. The last thing I wanted was to do was to come a tumble in the snow and ice.”
He joined the staff of Barnet Council 43 years ago as a gardener in East Barnet, then switched to road sweeping in 1987, and has spent the last 25 years in High Barnet.
His pitch was to clear litter along the length of the High Street and all around the main junctions with major roads such as Wood Street, Moxon Street and St Albans Road.
Over the years Dougie had become something of a fixture in the High Street, a popular character who has won many accolades for his contribution towards keeping the town centre tidy.
Among those saying farewell was High Street postman Sean Senior whose 37 years with the Royal Mail were not far behind Douggie’s length of service with Barnet Council.
Sean, whose round has included the town centre for the last eight years, said Dougie had been great company over the years as their paths crossed regularly as they both went up and down the High Street.
Dougie said he had really enjoyed his work as a road sweeper which was why he decided to carry on working instead of retiring at 65.
“The High Street is a very friendly place to work. People passing by stop for a chat and the shops and cafes have been very good to me – I often got offered a cup of tea or coffee.”
Another long-time friend who could vouch for Dougie’s deft brush work as a road sweeper – and his diligence in going to the trouble of even picking up cigarette butts – was David Owers, who is also 71 and who stopped to wish him well.
He and Dougie have known each other since years gone back and they were regular attenders at Barnet Football Club fixtures when matches were played at the former Underhill stadium.
Dougie said he would have more time now to watch football and cricket on television.
On the return of better weather next year, he hopes to resume his hobby of fishing at Jack’s Lake in Hadley Woods.