Two double decker buses visit former bus driver at Hulton House

Last weekend, two old John Fishwick & Sons double decker buses made a prescheduled stop at Hulton House Care Residence in Preston. They arrived to give a former bus driver, now now resident – the opportunity to reminisce and get back behind the wheel.  

The former bus driver was much loved by colleagues and passengers. He had worked for passenger bus company, John Fishwick & Sons for over 40 years and been an exemplary employee who had loved his job. His wife Elsie Wilson, also worked at Fishwick’s in the offices for 38 years. She still has fond memories of the company and commented ‘It was such a lovely place to work, and the staff were very close knit. Once you went to work there you never left.’ Elsie is still in touch with many of her past work mates. John Fishwick & Sons was a family run business for 100 years – but sadly went into administration six years ago. Formers colleagues, Mark Hayes and Aidy Burrows have been collecting old Fishwick buses over the years. Both have been lovingly restoring them in their spare time. 

Elsie’s husband retired at 66. At the onset of dementia, he found he was no longer able to remember his routes. His lifelong career on the buses had seen him rise to the level of Inspector. He was extremely saddened to give it up.

The experience behind the wheel was totally immersive, Elsie brought her husband’s old uniform in, which still fitted him perfectly. Staff at Hulton House dressed him in it, and they also dressed in the same colours including green ties they bought from the internet. An exhibition of bus memorabilia and photos of the former driver in his younger days was mounted in the reception. This helped to aid his memory and bring the event to life.  

The result was nothing short of amazing. ‘My husband now has very little recognition and has lost the ability to speak. It was so heart-warming to see that he appeared to recognise his old boss John Brindle – great grandson of John Fishwick who founded the bus company – and shake his hand,’ said Elsie. ‘His eyes also lit up and he made a gesture which seemed to say ‘look who’s here’, when he saw his old friend Chris whom he had been very fond of.’  

Staff at Hulton House – who focus on delivering person centred care – were thrilled with the outcome of this experience. Jill Bowen, Lifestyle lead at Hulton House commented,  ‘As soon as he saw the buses outside he practically ran towards them, we thought we might need a step to help get him up onto the bus, but he mounted the bus steps effortlessly and then climbed straight into the cab like he knew exactly what he was doing. He had a huge smile on his face and appeared very happy to be back behind the wheel. However, he was a little disappointed that his money bag was not where it should be, something that all drivers had to very aware of back in the day!’

Jo Fogg, Operations Director of L&M Healthcare who own and operate Hulton House commented, ‘This is a shining example of what can be achieved when our homes work together with resident’s families to deliver a person-centred activity. The arrival of the double decker buses resulted in a positive experience for everyone involved. But the reaction of this clearly well-loved gentleman was priceless. A true magic moment that none of us will forget.’    

In summarising the event Elsie said, ‘It was clear he absolutely loved it. In terms of recognition, this was the best I have seen him in ages. For me it was totally unforgettable. I’m so glad that were able to work together to make this happen.  The staff at Hulton House are not just carers, they are people who care. They love my husband and it shows.’

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