In the second of our festive season series, meet two of our essential workers in the UK and US who’ll both be working on Christmas Day this year.
David Gill is a Control Room Operator at Sellindge in Kent, controlling the power flow between Great Britain and France on the IFA interconnector, the first of our giant undersea electricity cables. He’s worked here for 10 years.
"On Christmas Day I finish my shift at 8am, then return back to work at 8pm. My rota means I’ll be working 12-hour night shifts from Christmas Eve right through to the 27th.
"We are here helping with the supply of green energy for the country, keeping all the ovens cooking Christmas dinners and Christmas lights glowing.
"I’ve worked quite a few Christmases and once you’re at work it’s not so bad and just feels like a normal shift. This year I’ll be missing time with my daughter Ally, who’s coming home for Christmas. She’s a head groom for a top level eventer in Cirencester and we haven’t seen her for months due to COVID.
"I’ll open presents with my wife, Ally and my 14-year-old son James when I get home on Christmas morning, before I get some sleep. Then we’ll have a couple of hours together before I’m back at work. I hope there’ll be some Christmas Day leftovers for me to bring with me.
EJ Williams works as a Supervisor in the Customer Contact Centre in Brooklyn, overseeing a team of 13. He’s worked for National Grid since 2014.
"I volunteered to work Christmas Day from 6am to 3pm in place of someone on my team who’s got small children. I wanted to step up.
"Twenty years from now, when I have a house full of kids during the holidays, I hope that karma comes back round again. I’d rather make a small sacrifice so my team can enjoy the holiday. Last year I worked Christmas too, but that was actually my year to work.
"I haven’t seen my parents who live an hour away in Long Island since the COVID pandemic started in March. They’re self-isolating, but we talk every day.
"Honestly, this year I plan on just watching TV after my shift and ordering whatever takeout is available.
"I’ve been working from home since March and the days tend to blur together. My favorite shift is New Year’s Day, when everyone’s asleep.
"People need someone to pick up on the phone in an emergency. One holiday I had a building owner on the phone frantic because his tenants didn’t have gas, but we sorted it out.
"And you always get one customer who doesn’t know what day it is and has pressed emergency because they want to open an account. If it’s quiet, I’ll just handle their request."