A ‘Ferry’ good day for our Bill

(left to right) Bill Ferry, WIlliam Ferry and Charlie Ferry. 231015CG
(left to right) Bill Ferry, WIlliam Ferry and Charlie Ferry. 231015CG

After a 67 years stint delivering milk Bill Ferry haswitnessed just about every change imaginable in his home city.

When he joined the family business, aged just 14, he had no idea that he would still be working the run at 85.

And while Bill is ever grateful for the good living the milk run has provided for his wife and family, he admits that it would never have been his choice - that’s if he had been given a choice at all. But as the eldest of a family of 12, choices were scarce to say the least.

“What would I have liked to have done? I don’t know but I would have liked the choice of it. “The young ones now have the choice of education. My children had it but I didn’t. My mother always said that our Bill had no choice about going on the milk, he just had to.

“My father rang the school , asked to have me sent up and then told me that I was leaving.

“Then again I enjoyed every minute of it, I enjoyed every day as I was always a man for the outdoors if anything.”

That first Winter, when Bill travelled out to cover Danny Toland’s milk run around Sheriff’s Mountain, it was a tough debut.

Going straight from school and delivering milk on a horse and cart was, indeed, a shock to the system, especially when it snowed for the next three months!

“It was an introduction to working life alright,” laughed Bill. “We didn’t get out on the vans for another three or four years and so we delivered the milk on the cart in all weathers.

“When the vans arrived, sure we didn’t know ourselves, we could sit in the warmth which was great.”

Bill married and had a family of his own, the ‘Troubles ‘ began and a milk float carrying dozens of bottles would prove to be a prime target but, fortunately, Ferry’s float was never troubled during the conflict.

“For some reason I always got through because people seemed to know me. I think it was because the family had been delivering milk for so long. The young ones would mostly just be after the bottles and so I’d give them the odd one to keep them happy.

“But it was tough during the ‘Troubles’ the days just weren’t the same.”

Married to Joan for 57 years, Bill lives in his parent’s house in Park Avenue and the couple have six children and 15 grandchildren.

Unlike many from the older generation, he sees the changing world around him as a positive.

“I would say that the main difference is that everything is mobilised now, if that’s the right word.

“When I started my working life bread, milk, everything really was delivered on a horse and cart and there were very few cars. Now everything is busy; everybody is busy and that’s the main difference. Well that and all the shops, there are shops everywhere now.

“But I like the changes when I look out of the window. I see the shop across the road that Joan worked in when she first moved up from Moville.

That’s where I met my wife in the shop across the street. The street has changed, but at the same time it hasn’t.”