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Shipping Wars’ Pukka Trucker’s Father Inspired Lifetime of Trucking

It’s 5:15 PM on a Tuesday evening and Russell Oliver’s rounding out another long day of transporting. He should be tired, but he certainly doesn’t sound like it—in fact, he sounds surprisingly spry and excited after his day out on the English roads. And why shouldn’t he be? He’s living a dream he’s wanted ever since he first ride along with his father, who was a lorry driver for 40 years.

Oliver’s charm is striking from the minute we start talking. He’s got a strong cockney British accent that immediately reveals his London roots and the namesake of his moniker, the “Pukka Trucker,” on Shipping Wars UK. Now in its third series, the popular Channel 4 television programme profiles transporters traveling across the island nation in search of the next item to move. These transporters come in all shapes and sizes, but they all utilize uShip’s online shipping marketplace to book a variety of loads around the United Kingdom.

For Oliver, though, this isn’t about money—it’s about family and tradition. He learned this from him his father at an early age.

“I wanted to be a driver ever since I was a kid. I started offending my teachers on purpose so they’d suspend me,” he laughs. “My mum had to work so my parents’ only option was to let me travel with my dad on his work trips across Europe.”

It took his teachers over a year to realize what Russell was pulling on them.

The lessons about honesty and happiness Russell’s father taught him during those trips still stick with him and have propelled him to heights he never imagined, both in the transport industry and in life. Transportation is ingrained in everything he does, from the way he’s raised his two teenage daughters, Farren (16) and Ashlee (13), to how he met his wife, who is also a transporter.  

“We originally met at a truck festival. She worked in finance at the time and couldn’t imagine getting behind the wheel of a truck—or so I thought,” he smiles. A few weeks after they met, she surprised him with her trucking license, and has been at it ever since.

That was nearly five years ago, and they’ve never been closer. They even work for the same company. This bond has allowed Russell to pass on a piece of his dad to her, an opportunity he couldn’t be more thankful for. His father passed away a few years ago.

“My dad taught me to be what I am, I have passed on his wishes to my misses. I live, breath, and eat all things trucking, and view every day as an chance to see new things and meet new people,” says Oliver. “Memories keep me ticking over and remind me of who I am. He’s never gone. Everything I do is for him.”

As he looks to the future, Oliver sees opportunity rather than uncertainty. “New doors always open and new chances arise. I’m too in love with life and surprises to worry myself with what’s coming next,” he says. “My dad was the same way.”

His one wish for the future? That his daughters get their driver’s licenses. “It’s our family legacy, after all,” he laughs.

Something tells me his father is smiling somewhere thinking of his granddaughters behind the wheel.