Dereham-based coach firm’s investment will drive the future

A mid-Norfolk coach company that has invested �300,000 in a new 61-seat vehicle despite the recession has credited hard work and customer care to its success.

Freestones Coaches, based in Beetley, near Dereham, has expanded its fleet to 12 coaches from just three when it was acquired by Barry Feeke in 1989.

Mr Feeke died in an accident in 2003 and the company is now run by his widow, Gloria. She gave up a career in aviation sales and gained the Certificate of Professional Competence needed to run a coach company.

The company, which employs 20 drivers and plans to expand further, expects the new 14m Scania I-6 tri-axel executive coach to come into service in September.

Mrs Feeke said: 'I think purchasing the new vehicle is going to send out the message that we are a company that is moving forward and I think it's good that in these times of trouble it's good to know that there are people who are successful. It's part of a longer-term plan. We do take a lot of effort in sitting down and planning for the future. We just take one step at a time and move it forward.

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In another sign of the company's confidence, it is currently replacing its white livery with a distinctive silver and red. Alan Huggins, Freestones commercial director, said the move would make the brand more recognisable. The company has also moved away from the school transport market, and is now focused on trips and excursions within the UK and internationally. Mr Huggins said: 'We are well aware that the train system is not what it should be and there's an alternative now. We can be in London in three hours. You travel from London [by train] and you stand for half the journey. I think that's where we win. People now want a quality service. They want to be picked up and looked after. Getting to your holiday is part of your holiday. I suppose that's why we have been busy.'

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