Like many four-year-olds, Lincoln Hill is a big fan of garbage trucks.
The highlight of his week is when the Lake Macquarie City Council collection vehicle visits his West Wallsend street to empty the bins.
But it is not just the sight of the truck that brings a smile to Lincoln’s face. The little boy has also struck up a special relationship with the truck operator David Roworth, the man he calls his “best friend”.
It all started in July last year when Mr Roworth, a 39-year veteran of the Lake Macquarie waste management team, was given a new run that took him down Lincoln’s street and he noticed the enthusiasm with which one little boy with flame-red hair would greet his weekly arrival.
“As soon as he hears the truck coming down the other side of the street he tears out the front,” Lincoln’s mother Cheryl said. “Then he rushes inside to get his own toy garbage trucks and lines them up on the veranda or along the driveway as he waits for the garbage man to come back up the street to our house.”
Mr Roworth started giving Lincoln a wave and a toot of the horn each week, then occasionally began stopping his truck to say hello. Their relationship has grown to the point where, a few weeks ago, Lincoln invited Mr Roworth to his fourth birthday party.
While the garbage truck operator could not make it, he did bring a special gift for his little mate the following week – a toy garbage truck, to add to Lincoln’s fleet. Lincoln found the gift when he arrived home from a string of doctors’ appointments and was over the moon.
The little boy has faced many medical challenges in his short life, having suffered a stroke soon after birth, and Ms Hill said his friendship with Mr Roworth was a bright spot in her son’s life.
For the truck driver, the rewards were mutual.
“He’s obviously right into his garbage trucks, so to be able to make a little bloke happy like that is a good thing to do,” Mr Roworth said.
“Lincoln’s had a bit of a rough trot, so if I can make his day a bit special, then that’s great.”
Lincoln’s mother was thrilled with the positive impact the truck driver had had on him.