A VINTAGE bus is to help to drive poppy sales in Hartlepool on Remembrance Sunday by giving passengers a free ride to the town’s annual service in honour of fallen troops in Victory Square.
Passengers boarding the 1975 Bristol RE bus won’t be charged a fare for the trip, but they will be expected to buy a poppy on-board or make a contribution to the Hartlepool appeal if they already have one.
The fundraising idea is the brainchild of the bus’s owner James Nielsen, who has previously appeared with it at festivals around the town, including the Diamond Festival, the Maritime Festival and the Tall Ships event.
But now James plans to press it into service one more time with a ride down memory lane to help the town’s poppy appeal.
The bus, which is adorned with a giant poppy on the front, will carry the service number 15, which it operated under for Hartlepool Transport between 1975 and its withdrawal from service on Remembrance Sunday in 1997.
James and his co-driver Trevor Best, a duty manager at the Stagecoach bus depot on Brenda Road in Hartlepool, will be on the road from 9.10am, when they will leave the Middlegate Terminus on the Headland bound for Seaton Carew Bus Station via the Central Estate, Brus Corner, the town centre, and the Rift House Estate.
The service will run from the Middlegate Terminus every two hours, at 10 minutes past the hour, until the last one at 5.10pm.
The return service will see James’s bus leave Seaton Carew Bus Station at 10.10am and then every two hours at 10 past the hour until the last bus at 6.10pm.
James said: “Sunday marks 15 years since the bus was taken out of service so I wanted to mark that in some way and because the date falls on Remembrance Sunday, it seemed a good opportunity to do some good by using the commemorative run to help the poppy campaign.”
And James’s idea has won the backing of Hartlepool mayor Stuart Drummond, who is a keen supporter of the poppy appeal and used a recent column in the Mail to promote it.
Mr Drummond said: “I think it is a tremendous gesture by James Nielsen to provide a free bus service on Remembrance Sunday, although people will of course have the option to make a donation to The Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal.
“Lots of people in the town will remember the Bristol RE before they were withdrawn 15 years ago, which will make their journey on the day very nostalgic.”
James has also won the backing of Hartlepool poppy sales co-ordinator Sian Cameron, who added: “I really appreciate the planning, time and effort James has put into organising this.
“It’s a wonderful idea and I hope it’s a great success.”