Two of Lancashire's oldest taxi drivers hang up their keys after 75 years and hundreds of thousands of miles in the job

Two of Lancashire's oldest taxi drivers have hung up their keys together - after going the extra mile for their customers.

By Catherine Musgrove
Friday, 4th February 2022, 3:45 pm

Eddie Schofield, 76, and Jim Michaels, 70, between them have clocked up 75 years of cabbying across Chorley and beyond.

But now, thanks to Covid and advancing years, they have both decided to retire from the Four Sixes group, and let someone else take to the wheel.

>>>Click here to read how a taxi driver shortage is hitting Preston.

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Eddie Schofield and Jim Michaels who have retired as taxi drivers after long careers with Four Sixes director Shaz Malik. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

Eddie

Eddie, from Chorley, started driving taxis in 1983 for a companty called FitzPatrick, one of the first taxi companies to open in Chorley. He then moved to Four Sixes Taxis a few years later.

He said: "I have to say I have really enjoyed my time as a taxi driver. My retirement came because of Covid 19 and it's been emotional to leave after all these years. And even though I'm retired, I will always see this as my company."

Four years ago, Eddie was involved in a potentially-life saving situation, which he says demonstrates the extra responsibilities of a driver.

Eddie Schofield receives his retirement gift from Four Sixes director Shaz Malik. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

He said: "Every Thursday we had a regular run from Euxton. One day his one day, the customer didn’t come out of the house, which was unusual. I knew something wasn’t right, so I got out of the car and went towards the door and looked into the porch, and that's when I saw the lady unconscious on the floor.

"I rang the base operator to send an ambulance and police as soon as possible, which he did. That is just one of the things we do. Customers weren't just customers back in my days; if they used your taxi regularly, we got to know them and would help them, including checking up on elderly people."

And what about advice for new drivers? He added: "In all of the years I've being doing taxis, one thing that will happen is that you'll encounter an agressive customer at some point in your career.

"I would advise anyone new, if a customer is aggressive, you always speak to them in calm manner. This should give the customer understanding you don’t want to be confrontational, and you will find that the customer backs down."

Jim Michaels receives his retirement gift from Four Sixes director Shaz Malik. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

Jim

Jim Michaels lives in Skelmersdale, but has driven in the Chorley area since 1986 after leaving a job at Tesco.

After working in the Croston and Eccleston areas, he joined a company called Croston Cars, which is now run by the Four Sixes group, the oldest in Chorley.

He says his time has been made memorable by providing more than just driving for customers.

He said: "I used to drive the tail bus, where I'd pick up five or six customers in wheelchairs. I enjoyed the time with these customers, because back in those years, taxi drivers where a support mechanism for the community; helping and supporting. Other taxis companies don’t focus on this anymore, whereas Four Sixes remains focused on this."

Jim says his take on customer service has been motivated by his experience as a customer when he was a teen. After a night out, he didn't have enough money to get home, but the driver still took him to his door to make sure he got back safely.

He said: "When I started to drive a taxi, if I customer didn’t have enough money, I would go that extra mile to get them home safely.

"When you're young money is always spent up before the night and you forget about how you will get home. So be honest with taxi driver and I am sure he will be able to do something for you, being polite and being honest will get you far."

Shaz Malik, owner of Four Sixes, thanked the drivers for believing in him when he took over the business, and sharing their knowledge of the trade.

He said: "Jim and Eddie have been a credit to Four Sixes and highly valued members of the team. We wish them all the best for their retirement.

"Driving for all these years and providing an excellent service for the surrounding areas of Chorley is a big achievement and they should be proud of that and we should all thank them.

"For sure Eddie has to be one of the oldest taxi driver in Lancashire to retire, it's achievement init self, am sure if Covid-19 wasn't around, Eddie would been driving until 80."