TWO kind-hearted bus drivers have been honoured for their selfless work away from behind the wheel.
Hartlepool drivers Neil Hadfield and Graham Button received the Service to the Community award and commemorative badge from their employers, Stagecoach North East, after going above and beyond the call of duty to help disadvantaged people.
Colleagues nominated Neil, 57, from the Stranton area, for his association with charities along with his youth activities.
He has supported young people in the town for 15 years, working at Rossmere Youth Centre before joining the detached mobile unit that offers advice and support to young people on the Central Estate.
He also spent six years volunteering at the Samaritans office in Hartlepool before it closed and regularly takes in homeless young people through the charity Nightstop.
Graham, 44, from the Throston area, has worked for Stagecoach North East as a bus driver for three years.
He received his award after raising money for charities including children’s cancer charity Clic Sargent and Hartlepool Blind Society.
Last Christmas, Graham raised more than £1,800 for these charities through a Santa fun run and a collection on board his services while dressed as Santa.
Neil, a married dad-of-two who has worked for the company for 34 years, said: “I have always enjoyed the work I do with charities and the youth services in the town.
“It can be challenging at times, but also very satisfying knowing we are helping.
“I have a passion for supporting young people to make the most of their life and the opportunities that come their way, and I’m privileged to be able to be part of that.
“I never expected to be recognised for what I do in my spare time, but I am really pleased to receive the award.”
Graham, who is married with a son, said: “I really enjoy helping people who need it most and raising money for different charities is my way of doing my bit.
“I don’t do it for the recognition but I was really pleased and overwhelmed when I found out about the Service to the Community award.
“My mum is a registered member of the Blind Society so I know first hand how much the support at the Hartlepool Blind Society is needed and the work that Clic Sargent do nationally is amazing.
“Both charities are very deserving causes and every little helps, so I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed towards my charity efforts and thank Stagecoach for this award.”
Stagecoach North East’s managing director John Conroy said: “Neil and Graham are both very deserving recipients of the Service to the Community award.
“On behalf of Stagecoach I would like to thank them for going above and beyond the call of duty to help the local community and it’s a pleasure to be able to recognise them in this way.