A PIONEERING female HGV driver has called it a day on trucking after 40 years of service.

Barbara ‘Babs’ Cheetham, from Dudley, has retired from her long-serving role as parcel carrier for Yodel after four decades of driving for the company.

She was one of just three female HGV drivers at the company when she took to the wheel in 1979 and has ruled the road ever since.

Barbara said: “I’m quite petite for a HGV driver, but it didn’t take long for colleagues to see that I could do the job, although I think people are still surprised when they see me jump down from the cab of a 44 tonner!

“I’ve loved working for Yodel, everyone pulls together, especially during busy periods like Christmas, and we’re out on the roads in all sorts of weather. The people are what makes the work great and I’ve particularly enjoyed our charity fundraising activities.”

To celebrate her retirement, Babs' colleagues at the Willenhall depot presented her with a watch, bouquets of flowers and US dollars for her planned trip to Florida.

Ryan Kelly, transport operations manager, Yodel, said: “Barbara has been a fantastic colleague and we wish her all the best in her retirement. It’s testament to the company and her colleagues that Barbara has worked with us for forty years. She’s been heavily involved in the community work that we do and has helped raise thousands of pounds for local charities.”

Barbara added: "Driving a HGV is a lot easier now than it used to be as there are a number of devices to increase your safety on the road. The loading has improved too thanks to many of the parcels being on pallets. I’ll miss driving my lorry because you can see the whole road ahead of you, but my little Hyundai car is definitely more practical.”

Barbara plans to spend her retirement playing golf, gardening and spending time with her family.