By Alexandra Warren
For most people avoiding long crowded commutes was one of the few perks of lockdown, but one person is happy to see people back on the trains.
Gipsy Hill railway station worker Charles Dickson, 64, has missed chatting to the locals and is pleased to see people traveling again safely.
His friendly charm and kind heart have made him somewhat of a local legend, and even earned him the nickname “Mr Cool”, given by Olympic gold medallist and London 2012 organiser Sebastian Coe.
Mr Dickson started working for the railway nine years ago to help passengers find their way during the London 2012 Olympic Games.
He worked as an onsite operations manager, helping people from all over the world navigate their way around London.
He said: “Being part of the Olympics was amazing and an experience I will never forget.
“I was looking after 5,000 people but I just stayed calm and tried to help them all without any issues.
“Sebastian Coe was onsite with me one day and commented on how calm I was – he said, “you are Mr Cool,” so it was then that my nickname was born.”
Since then he has continued to assist passengers at the station in Gipsy Hill.
In the last six months the number of commuters has fallen, and Mr Dickson has missed chatting to people from the community.
Mr Dickson believed it was still very important to help vulnerable customers and key workers, even though numbers were low.
He’s even going the extra mile and always carries spare packs of face masks around for people who have forgotten them.
Mr Dickson’s interest in helping others started early in life when he saw the impact of poverty first hand.
In his early 20s he attended navigation school with the dream of becoming a ship’s captain, and through this he won a scholarship which took him to South America for work.
Mr Dickson said: “I visited places like Brazil and Venezuela and saw people living and sleeping on the river banks because they had no home to go to.
“That really touched my heart and ignited a passion to help people as much as I physically could.”
Mr Dickson continues to help as many people as he can to this day, not only at work but also by donating essential items to countries in need.
He encourages Gipsy Hill people to give him unwanted goods, which he sends on to his home country, Ghana, or further afield.
Mr Dickson said: “My strapline is ‘from cookery to carpentry’ – whatever you have to offer, I’ll make sure it gets to someone who needs it.
“I’ve sent printers, microwaves and kettles before, so it really is possible.”
Pictured top: Charles Dickson
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