Mechanics Peter Walton, 73, Colin Gillespie, 75, and Michael Stayner, 74, have no plans to retire from VTNZ Pascoe Street and say their bodies will tell them when to slow down. Photo: Jonty Dine.

No slowing down for mechanics of VTNZ’s over 70s clubs

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By Erin Bradnock

Three local mechanics have three things in common – they are all in their 70s, they all work at VTNZ Pascoe St, and they all have no plans on slowing down.

“Retirement is just a name for something, if you’re fit and still healthy there’s no reason to stop work,” says 74-year-old Michael Stayner, who has been at VTNZ for 10 years. “I mean, what would I do? Walk around the house?”

The team at VTNZ not only accommodate the older trio but they celebrate it. Colin Gillespie, 75, Peter Walton, 73, and Michael were gifted with a cake last week with “222”, their collective age, iced on the top.

“Whenever I ask about retirement, I just get a blank look,” says their manager Boisey Colling.

Peter and Michael have dropped down to 32 and 35 hours respectively, while Colin continues to work full-time after 17 years with VTNZ.

“This is the longest I’ve worked at any one spot, the whole team here is a good and close-knit team,” says Colin.

“I don’t think I’ll make it to 20 years of service, but who knows,” he says.

Colin says his Fitbit reaches 10km of walking each day on the job. Michael agrees that the work keeps him fit and believes keeping active is the key to ageing well.

Peter says it’s the important work of road safety that gets him up each morning, and the high quality of work they deliver.

“I believe we have one of the best systems in the world,” says Peter. “I did retire for three months but you need a reason to get out of bed and I can’t think of a better one.”

Outside of work, Peter says his two rescue greyhounds keep him busy. Michael can be found working in his garden on the weekends as Covid-19 restrictions have kept him from travelling.

Colin dreams of having enough money to visit his daughters in Europe and having more time for winemaking once he’s ready to retire. His Italian son-in-law even says his wine is the best in the world.

While the trio does get some cheek from the younger team members, they agree it’s all in good fun.

“The banter and the fun we have makes up for the stress of the work,” says Michael.

“There’s a lot of cheek flying around,” says Peter. “I’ve worked at shops up and down the country, and here has been the best. The staff really make it that way.”