Pam is the journey of my life says Peterborough bus driver Joe
He has worked on buses for 56 years, but for Joe Somers the journey of his life began when he met future wife Pam.
Joe was just 20 when he started collecting fares as a bus conductor, and he was fortunate to be on the same 301 service which took Pam to food outlet Woodcocks in Bridge Street where she worked.
“She was a regular passenger and I got to know her. We got talking, went out on a date, and we ended up getting married,” said Joe, of Werrington.
“We married on my birthday - October 15, 1963 - and 53 years later we are still together.”
Joe’s half-century of marital bliss, which produced five children and nine grandchildren, is only the second longest relationship of his life.
The 76-year-old began as a bus conductor at the Tilling Group back in the days when the driver would stick their right arm out of the window to indicate a right turn, and swirl it around to indicate they were going left.
Joe added: “If I was not busy collecting fares I would do the same from the back.”
Joe started an “adventure” when he moved from Dublin to Peterborough aged 15 to join his older siblings Andrew and Kathleen who worked in the city.
After a number of jobs he began his career in the bus business, including 28 years behind the wheel. He also did national holidays and continental tours, which saw him driving tourists in countries such as Switzerland, Holland and France.
As a union representative, Joe skilfully negotiated improved pay conditions for himself and his colleagues, and incredibly he also arranges the annual bus arrangements to ferry people to the Silverstone Grand Prix.
On site from 4am, it’s hardly a job for a pensioner, but it’s a job that Joe still loves to orchestrate to this day.
Reflecting on his long service Joe said: “I’ve enjoyed it, I never disliked being on the buses.
“There’s been a massive change. You went from heavy steering vehicles to the dream vehicles you have now with power steering.”
Joe, who met the Duchess of Cornwall last year at a National Literacy Trust event in Peterborough, continues to work part-time from Stagecoach East’s Lincoln Road depot as a revenue inspector and a customer relations officer.
And for his loyal 56 years of service he has been shortlisted for an Unsung Hero Award at the UK Bus Awards on November 23.
Andy Campbell, managing director of Stagecoach East, who nominated him for the award, said: “Joe is an absolute diamond and I wish I could clone him. His cheerful enthusiasm is infectious in the workforce.
“I recently travelled back from a meeting on the bus with Joe. He stopped to speak to 10 different customers and you would have thought they were all personal friends.”