Fond farewell for school bus driver Maurice

A hundred years of history came to an end after a well-loved school bus driver who has driven three generations of the same family hung up his keys after 45 years.

On Friday, Maurice Parker, 65, from Hindolveston, completed his final school run to and from Astley Primary School, in Melton Constable.

J Parker and Sons was opened in 1905 by Maurice's great grandfather James Parker and was originally a haulage contractor, bus proprietor, radio dealer and motor engineer.

Maurice, who was born and bred in the mid Norfolk village, took over the business in 1965 after his father Herbert died.

As well as running the garage, Herbert also drove buses in the 1940s and 1950s for villagers who went on day trips to Skegness, Clacton, Great Yarmouth and the old cinema at Briston's former Oddfellows Hall.

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He even took the local cricket team and the Hindolveston Silver Band to matches and functions.

One of the Bedford buses driven by Herbert was nicknamed the cocoa tin because it was painted black and orange.

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Maurice said: 'I shall miss the children. I now take the grandchildren of the children I took years ago.'

He picked up and dropped off youngsters from Thursford, Barney, Fulmodeston, Swanton Novers and Hindolveston.

His wife, Sheila, 58, said: 'There are friends of ours who remember getting on the bus and being as cheeky as they can, before Maurice would give them a quick clip on the ear.'

Maurice first learned how to drive a bus in 1967, aged 21, in an orange 29-seater Bedford OB and also drove youngsters to and from Melton Constable Secondary Modern and Reepham High and Primary earlier in his career.

'The children didn't used to be as well behaved as they are now,' he added.

One unique way Maurice used to discipline the passengers many decades ago was tapping them on the head with a drumstick, which had a bobble on the end.

He also met Sheila while on a school run in 1970, while she was cycling on her way to work at the former Melton Constable Post Office.

She added: 'He used to smile at me and winked at me one day. A couple of days later he asked me out.'

The couple married in 1972 at Briston Methodist Chapel and have two sons and one grandson.

Maurice received a crystal tankard from Astley Primary School on Friday as thanks for his 45-year service, as well as several gifts from parents.

The garage will be knocked down later this year for two new houses.

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