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‘I broke my cooker’ - Bus driver who cooked curries for colleagues honoured on Queen’s birthday list

PUBLISHED: 06:30 10 October 2020

Simon Taylor, 32, a bus driver from Great Yarmouth, has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for cooking curries for colleagues during the coronavirus lockdown. Picture: Courtesy of Simon Taylor.

Simon Taylor, 32, a bus driver from Great Yarmouth, has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for cooking curries for colleagues during the coronavirus lockdown. Picture: Courtesy of Simon Taylor.

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A bus driver who cooked curries for colleagues during the coronavirus lockdown has been honoured in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Simon Taylor, 32, a bus driver from Great Yarmouth, has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for cooking curries for colleagues during the coronavirus lockdown. Picture: Courtesy of Simon Taylor. Simon Taylor, 32, a bus driver from Great Yarmouth, has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for cooking curries for colleagues during the coronavirus lockdown. Picture: Courtesy of Simon Taylor.

Simon Taylor, from Great Yarmouth, has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to the community during the pandemic.

The 32-year-old, who has been driving buses for six years, said that when the country went into lockdown and canteens which had previously served hot meals to staff across First Eastern Counties’ depots closed down, he decided he had to do something and contacted Chris Speed, head of operations at the company.

“I said to my boss, can I do curry one or two days a week? That was how it all started. For the next six or seven weeks I was slaving away in my kitchen, ten to twelve hours a day on rest days, getting curries ready.”

These meals were then heated up on company premises and provided, free of charge, for all the staff at Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft depots.

Simon Taylor, 32, a bus driver from Great Yarmouth, has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for cooking curries for colleagues during the coronavirus lockdown. Picture: Courtesy of Simon Taylor. Simon Taylor, 32, a bus driver from Great Yarmouth, has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for cooking curries for colleagues during the coronavirus lockdown. Picture: Courtesy of Simon Taylor.

Mr Taylor also enrolled himself, at his own cost, on a food and hygiene diploma course.

He bought large industrial cooking utensils and pots and on days off set himself the task to prepare 80 meals of curry with rice.

“I broke my cooker, I shattered the glass on the top because there was too much weight.

“I broke my dishwasher,” he said.

Mr Taylor said he prepared the food as a way of encouragement for and thanks to the drivers.

When he took the meals to the depots, one of the members of staff liked the food so much he wanted to provide a donation.

Mr Taylor then set up a JustGiving page for donations to the local air ambulance service, which had helped a number of staff in the past.

He has continued to prepare meals on his rest days and has expanded his menu.

After learning he was included in this year’s honours list, Mr Taylor’s first reaction was: “I thought it was a scam. I was like, woah, what is this? I said this is a big deal. If this is a scam, I’ve not seen this one before.”

Mr Taylor reserved special mention for the efforts of his colleagues at First Bus and “those colleagues who sadly lost their lives to Covid-19”.

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“I cannot stress how thankful I am, and I owe it to my management team who nominated me for the award,” he said.

The British Empire Medal is awarded for meritorious civil or military service worthy of recognition by the Crown.


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