STAGECOACH YORKSHIRE DRIVER, PAUL BILLAM, NAMED IN COVID-19 BIRTHDAY HONOURS LIST
12 Oct 2020
- Paul one of only three bus drivers in the country to be named in the birthday honours list
- Credit given to Paul for his charity work and keeping people’s spirits up during the Covid-19 pandemic
- Honour comes as Stagecoach marks 40 years of connecting communities this month
Stagecoach Yorkshire driver, Paul Billam, has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
The Queen’s Birthday Honours list covers individuals, including front-line workers, who have gone above and beyond during the Covid-19 pandemic.
As an avid charity supporter and fundraiser, Paul Billam has helped raise many thousands of pounds over the years for Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice both inside and outside work. He has instigated many different ways to raise money to support the most vulnerable, such the children of Bluebell Wood and other charities such as the Donkey Sanctuary.
When coronavirus struck the UK, life changed for everybody. Paul wanted to lift the spirits of others and was always thinking of how he could help others first. He decided he wanted to make life a little more fun for many of the children in the local area who were now stuck at home.
Paul had previously used fancy dress to make people smile, for example dressing up as Santa whilst driving his bus over the Christmas period. During the lockdown period, he decided to dress up as different characters, including Spiderman and Mario Brothers characters, and surprise friends and colleagues’ children with visits and sweet treats to make them smile and their days a little brighter. As time went on, the number of surprise visits increased and extended to families in his local neighbourhood where sweet treats would be left on the doorstep and families would wave and smile through the window, brightening up sometimes dark days.
Paul has always been steeped in local community and through his role as bus driver, has built up a strong rapport with his regulars on the 218 service. So when coronavirus changed everybody’s daily lives, Paul didn’t forget about his regular customers who were often some of the most vulnerable people. He would ask them to give him a thumbs up or a thumbs down as he passed their gates each day and to shout to him if they needed anything as he passed. He supported many of his customers not just by driving them where they needed to go but with supplies and a sense of humour through very difficult times.
Paul Billam said: “I was so surprised to receive this honour – I feel really proud to be one of only a few bus drivers in the country to get such a prestigious award. I love my job as a driver and it’s helped me to stay so connected with people in our local community. Lockdown was hard for so many people and I just wanted to make it better, particularly for those people who had to self-isolate. The kids loved to see me dressed up as Spiderman and other fun characters and the older people would come out to their gates to give me a wave as I drove past – it put a smile on my face as well!”
Sue Hayes, Operations Director of Stagecoach Yorkshire said: “We are all so proud of Paul for what is an amazing commendation. As Stagecoach marks 40 years of serving communities right across the UK, we know the great job our staff do day in day out to make sure people can stay connected with the places and people they care about the most.
“It’s really heart-warming to hear stories such as this, and to know what a valuable difference Paul has made to the daily lives of so many people in our community. Paul’s selfless attitude and actions are a real inspiration to others.”