Local bus operator Stagecoach North East has recognised employees that have demonstrated loyalty and dedication to the company in its annual long service awards, and bus driver David Littlewood from Hartlepool is celebrating 35 years service ‘on the buses’.
63-year-old David, who was born, lived and worked in the Brenda Road area all his life, has achieved his 35 year milestone after joining the bus company when it was Hartlepool Corporation on 2 January 1984.
Prior to this, David worked as a supervisor for thermos flask manufacturer Aladdin at the factory on Brenda Road, where he was in charge of assembly lines and making sure the popular flasks went out on time at the docks for export.
When the company shut down, David took on something of a tradition in his extended family and joined as a driver. His father-in-law from the Hornsey family was also a bus driver at the Hartlepool depot, along with 16 close relations of his wife, who were well known at the time for having so many of the family working on the buses.
Talking about the role he has had for over a third of a century, David said: “I love meeting the public, getting out and about driving across the town. Even though I do different routes, it’s quite a small area so you still meet the same people and see the same familiar faces.
“Buses have improved so much over the years too, with power steering, only one door now, and they are so much more comfortable! I used to drive an older-style bus which resides at the depot and when it was loaded full of people you would know about it! Friday and Saturday nights are much quieter now due to the late night licensing. It used to be like the Alamo, with people flying out of the window! However it can be challenging now on the roads with more people driving and the knock-on effect with traffic.”
A particular highlight for David was taking part and playing a key role in the 2012 London Olympic Games as part of the Stagecoach support team who were transporting athletes around the city. Stagecoach North East supplied 174 employees in total for the Games in London, as well as vehicles, as the company delivered transport services to more than eight million people who travelled to the London 2012 Games venues.
David continued: “I worked for eight weeks on the coaches, which was brilliant. It was an amazing occasion and really a once in a lifetime experience.”
After having a triple bypass late last year and returning back to work three months ago, David found that he was missed by his regulars, with some of his daily passengers saying that they haven’t seen him for ages and wondering where he was!
He added: “I have only had three jobs since leaving school, with the first as a side lad on the bin wagon for a year and a half, so my time as a bus driver has been for half of my working career. I’m really happy to have reached a 35 year milestone and I had an excellent night at the awards, where I met some fellow drivers from Sunderland and Newcastle and swapped stories.”
This year, 96 long-serving staff were acknowledged after accumulating an impressive 2,655 years of service between them, and each one was recognised for their prolonged hard work and commitment over the years at a celebration dinner and awards ceremony at the Hilton Newcastle Gateshead hotel.
Amongst the employees are bus drivers, engineers, administration and management staff based at Stagecoach North East’s depots across Teesside, Hartlepool, Newcastle, Sunderland and South Shields.
Steve Walker, Managing Director, Stagecoach North East, commented: “The long service awards provide us with an opportunity to celebrate our loyal and committed members of staff. This is an impressive number of people reaching milestones from 20 to 45 years and we are proud that they have helped us to shape and develop the company during this time.
“That so many people choose to work for us for such long periods - in some cases their entire working life – is testament to the strong and supportive team at Stagecoach North East. I would like to extend my thanks to all our employees and especially those who have achieved such impressive service records in 2018.”