From prisoners… to pensioners

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Bev behind the wheel of the Mercedes-Benz Tourismo she drives for Mystic Isle. ALAN PAYLING

This week, Alan Payling, our man in South Devon, chats with Bev Bailey, a coach tour driver with an arresting personality

One of the interesting things about some of the people I meet in the coach trade is their backstory before they became a coach driver. And Bev Bailey of Halesowen is no exception. On the face of it, you could not meet a more pleasant, jolly, polite, charming person. The ideal coach driver. What’s not to like? Well, in a previous life, if you ever meet her, you will be surprised to hear that Bev carried an awful lot of people, rather, make that a lot of awful people, who really did not want to travel with her.

Given the choice, they would rather have walked – or run – than be driven by Bev to their ‘accommodation.’ But Bev didn’t give them that choice. That’s because Bev’s passengers were at one time being looked after by her to keep Her Majesty happy. For the Queen, it was indeed a pleasure: for Bev’s passengers, when they were ‘taken down’ by her to their new abodes, they were not happy bunnies. That’s because Bev used to drive prisoner custody vans – or ‘sweat boxes’ – for Premier Prison Services of Brierley Hill, Dudley, on behalf of the Home Office, escorting the country’s criminal classes to and from police stations, courts and prisons. And if you should ask Bev if she has ever been in a prison, she will say: ‘Yes, loads.’ But, she was there in a professional capacity.

Torquay tour

I met up with Bev at the Babbacombe Hotel in Torquay. She was in resort for eight days with a group from the West Midlands. She now drives a Mercedes-Benz Tourismo for Mystic Isle of Droitwich, where she has been taking care of the company’s passengers for 18 months. Regular readers will recall I interviewed the boss of Mystic Isle, Kevin Legg, back in issue 1355.


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