Retired funeral director’s magnificent classic coach trip comes to an emotional end on Shetland

26 June 2017

The coveted Shetland coach trip reached an emotional conclusion over the weekend.

Sheltand coach trip

This came as Nick Taylor, a former Norfolk funeral director, gifted his beautiful 1950s Bedford OB coach to the Shetland Commercial Vehicle Preservation Society after an epic voyage spanning the length of the UK.

After 12 days on the road, the team of passengers and friends, lead by Owner Nick Taylor, finally reached their destination on the archipelago a few hundred miles off the coast of Northern Scotland. The cream and scarlet classic vehicle rolled of the ferry from Orkney to the warm reception of a small crowd who had gotten up early to greet the coach at 7.30am.

The journey began nearly two weeks earlier when the Coach was blessed by the Bishop of Norwich live on BBC One, outside the enormous Norwich Cathedral, before an excited crowd of well-wishers, classic vehicle enthusiasts and various members of the press. The journey was sponsored by a number of corporations, including Ecclesiastical Planning Services.

Throughout the past 12 days, the team have journeyed through Lincolnshire, the lake district, over the Erskine Bridge, north through the highlands and across to Orkney. The coach, which served on Shetland between 1950 and 1979, has been fully restored and has a maximum speed of 40mph. Needless to say it was a leisurely tour rather than a race.

The trip was invigorated through excursions, the general interest of the communities the team passed through and the warm receptions from a number of different organisations, including several of our own supporting funeral directors.

Eventually as the coach reached its final destination on Shetland, the only thing left to do was hand over the keys, which Nick confessed was far harder than he imagined it would be. He wrote just before reaching Shetland: “The team are beginning to feel weary and ailments are surfacing. HGE219 (the coach) sails on untroubled. Can you be proud of an inanimate object? The is debated and our conclusion is yes. We are so proud of this beautiful old coach that has brought us 1,100 miles without a hint of trouble. I love her to bits and although sad to see her go I know without a shadow of doubt that this was the right decision. She will soon be home.”

At a time when newspapers seem to bring mostly sadness and worry, the completion of this exceptional story is a timely and heart-warming reminder of the spirit of human kindness.

Read the full story on the dedicated website here. Read the BBC coverage here.