An electricity worker is ready to interrupt his own Christmas dinner if needed, to keep the power flowing for other families to enjoy theirs.
Mike Ward, a field engineer, has worked for UK Power Networks for 34 years, supporting a 24-hour operation to deliver electricity to customers across the East of England which continues as usual throughout the festive period.
Skilled engineers, linesmen and technical experts will be on duty continuously to make sure any issues that occur on the region’s overhead power lines and underground cables are resolved as quickly as possible.
Mike, who lives in Ingham and works out of the company’s Barton Road base, in Bury St Edmunds, admits there is an extra sense of responsibility to deliver for customers at Christmas.
He said: “You always want to help people back on supply as quickly and safely as possible, but I think there is an extra awareness when you work Christmas Day that this will have an impact on their special day so you really do everything possible for them, it’s an extra motivation because you know how much it will matter to them.
“I have been working for UK Power Networks for 34 years so I’ve worked a fair few Christmas days over that time; I did it last year as well. My children are grown up now so I volunteer for the shift to help other colleagues with younger families get that time off.
“This year I’m on a standby shift which means I will be called if required, from 8am on Christmas Day until 8pm on Boxing Day. It obviously means I cannot have an alcoholic drink as I need to be ready to drive to work at any time. If the phones goes, I go.
“I am having close family over, I’ll be with my wife and my grown-up son and his family, so we’ll just plan to have Christmas lunch at the usual time and if I have to leave it, I have to leave. My family have got used to the phone ringing after this many years.”
Power supplies are 99.9% reliable these days, and Mike added: “Last year I wasn’t actually needed, but I’ve certainly been required a few Christmas days.
“I remember one year there was a road traffic accident near Diss which brought down a pole and it was my job to be part of the team repairing it and restoring power. In other years it’s been stormy weather damaging the power cables, which has led to power cuts.”
UK Power Networks operates a free power cut helpline 105 so customers can report any power cut incidents and customers can keep up to date via our live power cut tracker, texts and Twitter.
The company runs a Priority Services Register which provides free extra help during power cuts for pensioners, families with young children and people with special needs, disabilities or health conditions.
For details visit www.ukpowernetworks.co.uk/priority or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictured above is Mike Ward, a field engineer who works in Bury St Edmunds for UK Power Networks, and who is ready for duty over Christmas to keep the power flowing.