The UK Bus Awards organisers have paid tribute to the late Ian Smith, the retired Commercial Director of the UK Bus Awards and the UK Coach Awards, who died suddenly at home on 2 February, aged 72. He worked with the awards schemes for 18 years, joining the company in 1999 and serving until his retirement in 2017.
Ian was born in Great Milton, near Thame in Oxfordshire in 1950, and buses were in his blood. His father had given up farming to drive buses, and he was the grandson of one of the Smith brothers that traded as the Miltonian Bus Company in the 1930s, before selling to City of Oxford in 1938 and buying farms. Ian himself joined the bus industry in 1968 as a company trainee at Midland Red in Birmingham before moving to the newly formed National Travel organisation in 1973, working initially in Birmingham then briefly at Victoria Coach Station before moving to Manchester and the post of Planning Manager for National Express services at National Travel North West.
He left the bus and coach industry in 1978 to join the Preston-based printing firm Mather Brothers, thereafter spending many years in reprographics sales and then consultancy. He founded the consultancy business Winning Tenders in 2009, relinquishing control in 2021 but remaining a director until his death.
Chris Cheek, a director of the UK Bus Awards who first met Ian at Midland Red in 1972 and remained a friend for over 50 years, commented: “Ian’s role in sponsorship development was pivotal in the success of the UK Bus Awards. His love of the industry, knowledge, personal charm and sales experience made him uniquely qualified for the role, whilst his management experience, calm demeanour and sense of humour were great assets to the organisation.”
“He will be sorely missed,” Chris added, “and we all send our deepest condolences to his wife Doreen and his family.”