A WITNEY bus driver retiring after 32 years says he will miss his passengers.

Bob Stannard, 68, will retire on Saturday, May 31, but says he hopes to still see the people he has come to know around the town.

He said: “They’re a great bunch of people and I will miss them a lot.

“I always chat with the elderly folk and we have a laugh.

“I wait for them to sit down and often get out of the cab to help them with their shopping trolleys.

“At Christmas time they bring boxes of chocolates, bottles of wine and vouchers for different shops.”

Father-of-two Mr Stannard, a former mechanic, began driving for London Country Bus Services in 1982 before moving to Arriva and then Stagecoach.

In 2001, he was living in Biggin Hill, South East London, with his wife Wendy, 67, a retired shop worker, when they decided to move closer to youngest daughter Lynn, 38, who was living in Abingdon at the time. He transferred with Stagecoach to Witney and moved to the town.

Madley Park resident Mr Stannard drives the 213, 214 and 215 services between the Market Place and housing estates including Madley Park, Cogges and Smiths, and says he prefers carrying passengers around Witney rather than to Oxford.

He said: “There’s a lot less traffic in Witney, although it can be very busy.

“And there aren’t too many bicycles here like there are in Oxford.”

Mr Stannard said there are about 70 per cent more cars on roads now, while buses have improved.

He added: “When I first started there was no power steering and you just had to heave them around.”

The service he drives will be taken over by Go Ride and he said it was a “convenient” time to step down.

His wife of 43 years Wendy, who he met when he was 12, said she first saw him driving a bus about 20 years ago.

She said: “It was a strange experience seeing him behind the wheel of a double-decker.

“It’s a big bus and when you’re only used to seeing him behind the wheel of a car it was quite daunting.

“He’s well-known and respected in Witney. A lot of his passengers are elderly and they find him very caring.”

Manor Road resident Daphne Denton, 70, who gets the 214 bus, said: “He’s such a gentleman and we will miss him so much.

“He’s so kind and patient when the elderly people can’t find their passes, and he helps everyone. Bob is part of a family on that bus – it’s a very friendly little outing.”

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