Life has been somewhat bumpy recently, but one railway worker is doing his best to help South Londoners return to travel smoothly. 

Southern Railway worker, Charles Dickson, became a firm favourite among passengers at Gipsy Hill when he started working at the station nine years ago.  

A people person, the gateline assistant says he misses “the hustle and bustle” of normal life, but is doing everything he can to make journeying safer for passengers. 

“There has been a real decline in passengers through Gipsy Hill since March. I used to enjoy exchanging greetings with many of the familiar faces, including lots of students and teachers. It’s sad that our famous cafe ‘Brown & Green’ has closed - customers used to queue up in the morning bringing real life to the station,” said the 63-year-old. 

A particularly memorable year for Mr Dickson was 2012, when he worked as an Operations Manager at the Olympic Games, helping people from all over the world navigate their way around London. 

Despite managing over 5,000 people, Mr Dickson stayed so calm that he was given the nickname “Mr Cool” by athletic gold-medalist Sebastian Coe. 

Your Local Guardian: "Mr Cool" at Gipsy Hill Station "Mr Cool" at Gipsy Hill Station

Arriving to the UK in 1981 with the hopes of being a ship’s captain, it is not surprising that Mr Dickson has a sound sense of direction. He won a scholarship to navigation school in his twenties, taking him all the way to South America to work. 

And now, after years of helping others find their way, passengers are returning the favour, by donating essential items for the railway worker to send abroad.

“The Gipsy Hill locals are a great support to me. They know I like to send things to my home country Ghana, as well as further afield. 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!” said Mr Dickson. 

An enhanced feeling of community is one perk of the pandemic, said the gateway assistant - at least in his stretch of Lambeth. 

"It’s good to see customers being very alert and conscious in their decisions; there is a cordiality and respect amongst passengers. Seeing them greeting one another in the morning - while social distancing, of course - shows unity, care and love for one another during this very trying time. I’ve even noticed less littering!"

Your Local Guardian: Mr Dickson has been described as a "local legend"Mr Dickson has been described as a "local legend"

He is looking forward to seeing all of his customers again, but in the meantime is handling the pandemic with his trademark "cool".  

“We at Southern have been able to support the community with a constant supply of amenities, including masks, sanitiser, wipes and gloves to ensure we have a safe and peaceful station – there is tranquillity here!”