HE is more used to pulling tricks than wheelie bins.

But, like all of us, Ian 'Zippy' Lees has had to adapt to the challenges of pandemic life.

Before the coronavirus crisis, the well known Warringtonian was a magician, children's entertainer, quiz master and DJ.

Lockdown and Covid restrictions meant he 'lost everything overnight' but instead of moaning Ian dusted himself off and reinvented himself as a binman.

The Woolston resident said: "It’s been tough. When we got into the pandemic I was crawling the walls because I lost everything overnight.

Ian Zippy Lees on shift as a binman in Warrington

Ian 'Zippy' Lees on shift as a binman in Warrington

"I was doing my kids’ shows and three quiz shows a week in the pubs. I was very comfortable with the money I was earning but then it all stopped.

"If the money isn’t coming in you’ve got to do something. I live in Woolston so I walked down to the depot and asked for a job."

Even though Ian can drive coaches and buses due to his former life as a bus driver, he still needed a 'Class 2 licence' to drive Warrington Borough Council's bin wagons.

That was not an obstacle for long thanks to his daughter Clair, who is getting married at Peckforton Castle in October.

He added: "My daughter is getting married so I borrowed £2,500 from her wedding fund and I passed my test and they took me on."

Ian zippy lees.

Ian performing the Zippy Show

Ian, who got his nickname Zippy from the character from the children’s show Rainbow because he ‘never shuts up’, started in June but people still tend to do a double take when they recognise him.

He said: "It was a case of getting off my backside and doing something and I’ve enjoyed getting out there because people will say: ‘Why are you doing the bins? You’re an entertainer’. I’ve enjoyed surprising people.

"It’s nice being able to say hello to so many people. I’ve even made balloons in the streets for the kids. We were dancing in the streets during the first lockdown. We do have a laugh with the community. Often the kids will shout: ‘There’s Zippy on the bin wagon!’ It’s great."

Ian left Woolston High in 1978 to pursue a career as an entertainer.

By 1983 he had joined the Magic Circle and over the years his zany personality has seen him appear on numerous shows like Wipeout and Golden Balls while he won Celebrity Squares presented by Bob Monkhouse.

Ian Zippy Lees on shift as a binman in Warrington

Ian 'Zippy' Lees on shift as a binman in Warrington

His colourful career even led to him presenting a talent show with Phillip Schofield at the Cockhedge Centre many moons ago. But swapping the world of entertainment for being a driver-loader has given Ian a great deal of satisfaction.

Ian, who met his wife Diane at The Carlton, added: "Everything went overnight so what do you do? My wife isn’t working – she’s retired and you’ve got to put food on the table.

"It’s about not being afraid to get stuck in and I think that’s why people like me. I’ve done a lot of things over the years – I’ve got more photos than the Warrington Guardian. I get a lot of appreciation for it. Even Edwina Currie thinks I’m doing a great job. She’s messaged me.

"I really miss doing the Zippy Show but I’ve got bookings starting to come in for July. It’s strange because I’ve been self-employed for 35 years and now I’m working for someone else.

"But it’s good as you feel you’re doing something for the community. At Christmas they come out with chocolates and bottles of wine.

Ian Zippy Lees on shift as a binman in Warrington

Ian 'Zippy' Lees on shift as a binman in Warrington

"I think I’ll keep it going even when I go back to my magic show. It’s another string to my bow and if you want holidays and nice things you’ve got to work for them."

It was a big adjustment at first though.

Late nights doing pub quizzes were replaced by early rises at 5.30am, working 10 hour shifts from Tuesday to Friday.

On some rounds, Ian's team empties more than 1,300 bins a day.

He said: "I found it hard at first but your body clock soon adjusts – it’s like autopilot. I’m in bed at 7.30pm after Emmerdale."

Ian Zippy Lees on shift as a binman in Warrington

Ian 'Zippy' Lees on shift as a binman in Warrington

Ian, who does a Sounds of the 60s show on Radio Warrington on Saturdays, also praised his supervisor Nigel Dearden and twin brother Stuart Dearden for all they do for charity and the community through the job.

Led by Nigel and Stuart, Warrington binmen raised more than £40,000 for St Rocco's by collecting and disposing old Christmas trees.

Ian, who also coincidentally has a twin brother called Mark, said: "They are a good company to work and some of the lads do a lot for charity and particularly St Rocco’s.

"I get a lot of satisfaction out of that, and also when we had the floods we were going in and filling sandbags.

"It’s something nice to come out of all this. It’s a good boost to my morale as well. When the kids shows can start again I’ll be back on track but I think I’ll keep the bins going as well because I love it."