A double decker birthday surprise for a bus-loving grandmother
Planning a special treat for a family member’s birthday can be awkward at any age. Some might prefer a birthday party in a local pub, others fancy a quiet night in and a cheapo birthday cake from your favourite supermarket.
Some people, like the creator of East of the M60, might prefer a transport-themed celebration. Retired nursery nurse Margaret Swallow, from Stalybridge, celebrated her 80th birthday by driving a double decker bus.
Margaret celebrated her birthday on the 18 September and made no secret of wanting to drive a double decker bus. When Margaret was born, most of Stalybridge’s buses were operated by the legendary SHMD Joint Board. The 4 service terminated at Mossley Brookbottom which forms part of today’s 340 and 343 routes.
Instead of the usual flowers/chocolates/posh meal, her son Adrian Trudgeon had another idea. He called Stagecoach Manchester and organised her six-wheeled surprise. This took place at their Ashton depot, only a few hundred yards from the former SHMD bus depot on Tame Street, Stalybridge.
Aided by Stagecoach Manchester’s training manager Peter Reid, Margaret successfully drove the 51-reg Dennis Trident 2/ALX400 bus. She passed and completed the depot’s training circuit.
Speaking about the occasion, Margaret said: “Naturally, I was apprehensive when I first found out what Adrian had arranged. I’ve been driving for most of my life but until today, I have never been behind the wheel of a bus.
“It was a really exhilarating experience and once the nerves had worn off, I had a real adrenaline rush – it was a lot of fun. I must say thanks to the team at Stagecoach for making this possible.”
To celebrate her accomplishment, Margaret was presented with a medal and certificate by the Stagecoach Manchester team. Elisabeth Tasker, Stagecoach Manchester’s managing director said:
“When we received the request from Adrian, we immediately knew we wanted to help make this happen. It’s such an unusual request – not many 80-year-olds can say that they have driven a double decker bus for their birthday. Hats off to Margaret and Happy Birthday from everyone at Stagecoach!”
Had I been in Margaret’s position, I would have preferred that to the usual flowers/chocolates/posh meal approach for birthday presents. As the photos show below, she really did enjoy herself.
An EM60 Presentation, 21 September 2018.