A Leyland bus which has spent most of its life working helping children’s homes in Poland and Romania recently returned to its home town for a special visit.
‘The Old Lady’, made in Leyland in 1978, was brought to the town the weekend of the Leyland Festival last month by a group of vehicle enthusiasts. Berber Santema, one of the friends who travelled to the town to see where the bus originated from, tells us the vehicle’s story:
“We are a Dutch group of 11 friends and most of us are retired, so we made a two-week trip in June through England and Wales.
“We had a really good holiday and the weather was so beautiful – quite a surprise in your country!
“Our vehicle of transport was an old coach with a Leyland chassis and engine, made in Leyland in 1978.
“Until 1993, it was used for regular public transport in the Dutch province of Friesland, and then the bus was bought by Pierre Feijten, Eastern-Europe connoisseur and enthusiastic antique car specialist.
“He and his friends used the bus for the transport of food and goods to children’s homes in Poland and Romania.
“Nowadays, there is no more lack of those goods, but Pierre’s foundation is continuing by gathering money for medical and nursery devices.
“So Pierre and we, his friends, use the bus now for touristic purposes.
“Some years ago the bus was reconstructed and equipped with a real kitchen; seats were removed and tables put in, like a camper without beds.
“We love the bus and call her ‘The Old Lady’.
“We had a busy programme in the UK last month. For the way back to Harwich (via the Peak District) we planned a visit to Leyland in order to see the place of birth of the coach.
“Thanks to our Lions contact in Leyland we managed to stay for two days.
“We had an exhaustive excursion in the Leyland Truck plant. Provided with headphones we listened to the professional explanation of the guide and followed the assembly process.
“It was quite a coincidence that the next day the old vehicles parade would take place. We had been invited to participate in the procession and, dressed in orange, we proudly presented our bus.
“In the festival area, we became acquainted with the relaxing atmosphere of this typical English event.
“Thank you, Leyland! And we have to come back, because – what a shame to tell – we didn’t even visit the Vehicle Museum. Not enough time.”