An idea which originated with two drivers from First Essex’s Hadleigh depot has gone national. The idea to produce the badges in recognition of colleagues who had contracted COVID-19 was the brainchild of Hadleigh-based driver Mark Durrant who designed and had the initial batch of badges produced, but the question was quickly asked: why stop there? Mark and colleague Nick Field quickly set about contacting other First Bus operators across the country, and the badges have already started making their way to depots stretching from the south coast to Yorkshire, raising money to support the families of colleagues who have been lost.
Within days, driver Matt Blay of Bath depot was one of those who picked up the idea, ordering a batch which is now rolling out for the south west and the list of confirmed orders quickly snowballed to over 2,500, with more already being requested.
Nick thought of the idea as a sign of support ‘from the people, to the people.’ Nick said; “This is being done purely on the basis of supporting the families of the fallen loved ones. The power of social media is fantastic, we’ve covered everywhere from Dover to York so far. There has been a lot on the news about London bus drivers, we want to remind people that not every driver drives a red bus.” With the unexpected rush of orders, Nick urged patience: “please be patient our supplier is turning them around as quickly as possible!” he said. Anyone whose depot has not yet ordered badges and wishes to is encouraged to contact Nick on [email protected]
In other ways of showing support for people who’s lives have been lost, operators have been holding minute silences. On Friday 24 April at 1100hrs, First South Yorkshire held a minute’s silence for Staff Manager Neil Bailey who passed away after contracting the disease, with drivers asked to pull over in a safe place as a mark of respect.
Nick Field, left, and Mark Durrant (right) who designed the badges and had them produced. NICK FIELD