From delivering post to beer collecting
FROM being a postman with Royal Mail in England to owning three properties in the United Kingdom and one in Port Alfred is the success story of popular local resident, Roy Bushell.
But it has been a long, hard struggle to achieve this.
Born in Zambia, but brought up in Bulawayo in Zimbabwe, Bushell first made his mark in life as a golfer at a tender age.
During his teen years, he represented the then Southern Rhodesian junior team for two years, captaining the side in his last year, playing off a scratch handicap.
During those years, he played alongside the famous Nick Price, when he won the world junior championships.
After leaving school, Bushell fought in the bush war in Zimbabwe, where he served in the army’s artillery regiment.
Once the war ended and Robert Mugabe had taken over the country, Bushell moved to South Africa, where he worked for several years until he was retrenched. He then had to make a decision, and moved to England on an Irish passport and without much money or qualifications, in 2004.
“I heard one could make good money by working for Royal Mail provided you were prepared to work hard,” he said.
So he applied successfully for a postman’s position in Swindon, Wiltshire, and spent the next nine years delivering post to up to 1000 properties a day.
He explained that there were plenty of opportunities to work overtime and he took advantage of this to “make as many extra pounds as possible”.
His days started at 5am and he often worked for up to 11 hours on a shift, covering up to 12km come rain, hail or snow. The bag he carried weighed up to 16kg and he would deliver up to 12 of these in a day.
Ironically, there were many South Africans in Swindon and he befriended many of them.
Traditionally, as is the case of all postmen throughout the world, his biggest curse on his rounds was getting past residents’ dogs.
“I remember having a close call with an Alsatian and a pack of five Jack Russells – they were the smallest, but the most vicious,” he smiled.
Meanwhile, through sheer hard work and saving, Bushell had built up sufficient funds to buy three houses in England. But by 2013, he and his wife, Lee-Anne had had enough and wanted to return to South Africa. They sold one of their properties and settled in Port Alfred because they liked the town and its friendly people.
“We haven’t looked back since then,” he said.
His wife joined a local estate agency and Bushell got the spinoff from this as he often did repairs and maintenance on houses that were on the market. He still does so today.
For the past 20 years, Bushell’s hobby for pubs he has always had in his various homes.
Now, finally settled in Port Alfred and able to concentrate on this seriously, he has built himself a pub in his Smith Street home that most men would die for.
Here he has been able to display his thousands of items, many of which have a story to tell. He has concentrated on collecting beer bottles (all still unopened), caps and ties.
He estimates that he has about 300 bottles of beer from all parts of the world including China, Singapore, America, Canada, South America and most of the European countries.
Perhaps, the most special and unusual one he has in his collection comes all the way from Katmandu in the Himalayas.
He also has a bottle of Lion beer brewed in 1974 especially to celebrate 150 years of Lion Lager in South Africa. All bottles still have their original labels.
Over and above these, his library of autobiographies.
Among these are a set of four written by the famous British prime minister, Sir Winston Churchill, on the Great War. He said he bought these at a car boot sale while still in England, for the princely sum on £10. He has since been offered R18000 unseen by an antique dealer.