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Passengers' thanks as bus driver Martin makes final stop

PUBLISHED: 14:03 26 October 2011 | UPDATED: 17:33 26 October 2011

Anglian Buses customers surprising their much loved driver Martin Harvey with a heartfelt thank you for the wonderful service and friendship he has provided on his retirement at the stop in Rockland St Mary. Photo: Steve Adams

Anglian Buses customers surprising their much loved driver Martin Harvey with a heartfelt thank you for the wonderful service and friendship he has provided on his retirement at the stop in Rockland St Mary. Photo: Steve Adams

Archant 2011 0

Through snow and ice, sunshine and rain, a reassuring constant for villagers boarding the No 1 bus into Norwich has been the cheery smile of driver Martin Harvey.

Through snow and ice, sunshine and rain, a reassuring constant for villagers boarding the No 1 bus into Norwich has been the cheery smile of driver Martin Harvey.

For as long as they can remember, his friendly chatter has lifted the spirits of elderly people living on their own, calmed the nerves of students on exam day and taken the boredom out of bus travel for young children.

And he has never failed to astonish them by remembering all their names – and often the names of their children and grandchildren as well.

So with his retirement beckoning, villagers in Rockland St Mary, Bramerton and Surlingham decided it was their turn to make him feel special.

In the final week of his 11 years on the buses, seven as driver on the No 1 service, Mr Harvey, 64, was yesterday taken aback by the posse of pedestrians waving him down outside Rockland St Mary’s post office at 9.35am.

The truth suddenly dawned when he spotted a photographer and a familiar face carrying cards and a gift. “I have been set up. Who has done all this,” he asked?

Three cheers and a chorus of For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow left him speechless. It was left to Phyllis Hammett, 81, of The Street, Rockland St Mary, to hand over a £150 collection and card which was made by a student and signed by passengers.

She said: “He is always so cheerful and considerate and takes a genuine interest in all the students who get on the bus. He even knows which exam they might be taking on a particular day and asks them if the right questions came up.”

A message in the card from one student read: “You deserve your rest after learning all our names.”

Another student, Molly, wrote: “Wishing you the best. Thank you for being the loveliest bus driver.”

Ruth Perfitt, of Bramerton, who organised collections at the post offices in Surlingham and Rockland St Mary, said: “There are even messages in the card in French and Spanish. Martin always greets them in their own language.”

Gillian Cooper, 85, and June Williams, 79, neighbours in The Street, Rockland St Mary, agreed Martin was “one of the best, very friendly and caring”.

Ivy Clarke, 74, of School Lane, Rockland St Mary, said: “He will wait for you when he sees you approaching the bus and he always makes sure everyone is sat down before he pulls away.”

Mr Harvey, of Cherry Hill Close, Worlingham, near Beccles, said he had a “fantastic time” on the buses, and described his passengers as “lovely people”.

Those on board did not mind the brief delay one bit and passenger Mary Barron even presented him with a home-made cake.

The former Prudential long-time employee said he was looking forward to retirement and spending time with wife Maureen.

Have you got a Broads story for the Evening News? Contact Stephen Pullinger on 01493 847954 or email stephen.pullinger@archant.co.uk

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