Over 27 million steps and counting: Howard the postman set to retire

A postman at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust who has walked nearly 28,000,000 steps since starting his job is set to retire from the West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds, after 12 years of service.

Howard Clayton joined the hospital in June 2007 as a bank porter and quickly moved into the role of internal postman where he has stayed ever since. Howard has become a very familiar face around the Trust’s site, delivering letters, parcels and even presents to staff members and patients.

The 64-year-old, who lives in the town, covers a lot of ground each shift.

“I walk at least 10,000 steps a day here, and I have done since I started!” he said.

When told this equates to over 27 million steps over 12 years, Howard smiles and replies: “I’m really lucky that I have been able to speak and interact with people from all walks of life in this hospital.”

Howard’s wife Susan had already been a part of the Trust for 14 years when she encouraged him to apply for a role within the hospital. He remembers fondly how much change he has seen since he first set foot in his job.

“It was a lot different when I started here. I’ve seen members of staff beginning their careers and some moving on. I remember a lot of the new parts of the building being built. For example, the new acute assessment unit building is where our old post office used to be.”

Darren Cooksey, portering services manager at WSFT, said: “Howard has been an integral part of our team for so long now it’s going to be sad to see him go. Both staff and patients recognise Howard instantly and he’s a well-loved colleague who will be greatly missed around our hospital.

“Howard processes up to 800 letters per day and is always on the move. It’s easy to see how he has chalked up so many steps in his time here.”

When asked what has been the best part of working at West Suffolk Hospital, Howard replies instantly: “It has got to be the people. I think it’s a Suffolk thing; we really like to talk to anybody! I deliver post to staff but also to patients. Sometimes this includes presents or cards or even a balloon if it’s their birthday.”

Even though he is retiring, Howard has no plans to stay still. What is he looking forward to most about his retirement?

“I’m sure I have been given a few tasks to do around the house for when I retire, but I’m a Bury Town season ticket holder and I plan to continue to support them home and away,” he said.

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