After 26 years at the wheel Yellow Buses’ driver Charlie Gibson took his last journey – and was amazed when members of his family kept getting on.
Wife Sylvia was first to board and had secretly arranged for another dozen members of the family to be waiting at various stops en route.
As Charlie, 65, began the last leg of the journey into Bournemouth town centre his son Ian announced to passengers what was happening.
They all spontaneously applauded then sang ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow’, before the driver made his last stop and exited his cab for the final time.
Great grandfather Charlie joined the Yellows as a conductor in 1969 and became a driver in 1971. In 1979 he joined Plessey in Christchurch before re-joining the Yellows in 1999 where he has worked ever since.
Son Ian said: “My mother and I decided that it would be nice for the family to help dad celebrate his long service with Yellow Buses, and secretly organised for everyone to be on his final journey.
“We called the Yellows and found out his last route would be the 1c 13.26 from Somerford near Christchurch, ending at Gervis Place in Bournemouth town centre.
“Mum surprised him by joining him at the beginning of the route, and then throughout the journey more and more family members got on the bus.
“By the end of the journey there were 13 of us keeping him company!
“Dad was overwhelmed and couldn’t believe we’d all managed to keep the plan a secret.”
Father of seven Charlie, from Mudeford, said: “I didn’t know anything about it and when my wife got on I thought she was on her lunch break. Then more of the family got on and I started to suspect something.
“It was lovely to see them all – even some of my grandchildren were there for my last journey.
“I will miss my colleagues at the Yellows and it’s been a wonderful place to work. I plan to spend my retirement fishing and watching Southampton play.”
Charlie’s retirement is not the end of the family involvement with the company because his son Stephen is a driver too.
Jenni Wilkinson, Yellows’ Head of Marketing, said: “When Charlie’s wife told us what was happening we were pleased to help arrange their travel so they could all hop on his bus.
“Charlie is a very popular driver with the passengers and staff so it’s sad to see him go, but he’ll still be catching the bus so he won’t become a stranger.”