‘Mary’ thanks to Stagecoach

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Southdown ‘Queen Mary’ Leyland PD3/4 409 DCD at St Michael’s Church. NICK LARKIN











A special bus made a former driver’s last journey memorable, reports Nick Larkin.

Stagecoach South stepped in at short notice to provide a legendary classic bus for a former driver’s funeral. Malcolm Pelling drove buses for 15 years with Southdown and became an area manager at Eastbourne. He also drove for Haven Bus and was latterly a revenue inspector at Brighton station, prior to a long illness.

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Malcolm, who died on October 23 at the age of 58, was a true devotee of Southown’s legendary ‘Queen Mary’ Northern Counties-bodied Leyland PD3/4s, assisting in the preservation of several examples and developing almost a sixth sense for rooting out interesting buses in jeopardy.
Malcolm’s wife, Lorraine, and friends dearly wanted to have a ‘Queen Mary’ at the church. Extensive efforts were made to find an example that could appear at short notice, but all seemed to be off the road.

But then Stagecoach South stepped in with preserved 1964 convertible example 409 DCD, which is still owned by the company as a special events vehicle. Colin Ashcroft, Operations Manager at Portsmouth said: ‘‘Our deepest sympathies go out to Malcolm’s family, friends and colleagues on his passing. On behalf of Stagecoach and its predecessor, Southdown, we want to thank Malcolm, through his family, for his contribution to the industry. It seemed only right to represent and honour his service by providing a vintage Southdown bus as part of the funeral cortege.”

Driver Scott McAvoy said: “Malcolm worked with my father and grandfather out of Seaford Garage and his mother, Molly, was my Uncle’s conductress at Seaford Garage and Eastbourne on Southdown. Malcolm was a truly lovely person and it has been an honour to drive 409.”
Malcolm’s wife, Lorraine, embraced the bus when she saw it outside St Michael’s Catholic Church at High Salvington, Worthing, West Sussex. “Malcolm would have loved this,” said Lorraine. “We are so grateful to Stagecoach and driver Scott who did a wonderful job, and everyone else who made it possible to have the bus here today.”

Southdown bought some 300 ‘Queen Marys’ from 1957-1967 including 30 open toppers, among them 409 DCD. This bus was delivered in June 1964 and survived in service until 1990 when it became a special events vehicle. It has been retained by Stagecoach ever since.

Stagecoach driver Scott McAvoy made a fine job of driving the bus. NICK LARKIN