Friends and colleagues pay tribute to two men killed in bus crash on A47 at Thorney Toll

Tributes continue to be made by friends and colleagues of the two men killed in the tragic collision between a double decker bus and a lorry on the A47 at Thorney Toll.

Brian Chapman, 76, of Cherry Road in Kettering was a passenger on the First Excel 1 bus when it collided with the lorry at 7.30am on Tuesday, June 26. He died at the scene.

Kettering, Parish Church verger Brian Chapman ENGNNL00120111114090314

Kettering, Parish Church verger Brian Chapman ENGNNL00120111114090314

Today, Brian’s neighbours Denise, 54, and Perry Mayhew, 59, said: “It’s especially sad because he’d just come back from holiday just the day before and he’s died in his own country. It’s really, really sad.

“We couldn’t have had a better neighbour really. He’s really well known in the community. I’m a mobile hairdresser and everyone whose hair I do knows Brian.

“He used to give our grandchildren presents. He was a lovely, brilliant neighbour. It’s sad really because when you get good neighbours you put everything on to them don’t you?

“He was one of those who loved to chat - you’d pull into your road and he’d love to chat.

A view of the scene from above. Photo: Terry Harris

A view of the scene from above. Photo: Terry Harris

“He would come out and say ‘my blood pressure’s up because I’ve been reading about the politicians!’ you know so he wasn’t one of those who was chatty but talked nonsense.

“We knew it could be Brian (who died). He sits at the front and likes to talk to the bus driver.

“He was an early bird. He’d probably be back from Wisbech at two o’clock in the afternoon.

“It’s a regular thing that Brian does so he might have known the bus driver. He likes to go down to the market there to buy seaweed for cooking.

Bus collides with Lorry on the A47, Peterborough 26/06/2018.  Picture by Terry Harris. THA

Bus collides with Lorry on the A47, Peterborough 26/06/2018. Picture by Terry Harris. THA

“The church know him better than anybody. He spends a lot of time up there.”

David, the rector of Kettering parish church, Walsh said: ‘He flew back to Birmingham airport on Monday and was picked up by a member of his congregation.

He was a man of habit, he would go to King’s Lynn market every Tuesday or every other Tuesday.

“He told me how much he was looking forward to going back to King’s Lynn.

Bus collides with Lorry on the A47, Peterborough 26/06/2018.  Picture by Terry Harris. THA

Bus collides with Lorry on the A47, Peterborough 26/06/2018. Picture by Terry Harris. THA

“I came to love Brian, he had a heart of gold, absolutely reliable and devoted to the church. He had been a verger here for 40 years.

Ian Greenwood, 67, deputy verger to Brian at the church, added: “It came as a complete shock to us all. I’m absolutely devastated and he’ll be sorely missed.

“People in the church are absolutely devastated.

“We normally have a Wednesday afternoon service with seven or eight people. Today there were 35 people to remember him and pay tribute to him.”

Mr Chapman lived in Cherry Road and was a stalwart of SS Peter and Paul’s Church in Market Place, where he had been verger for more than 40 years

Revd David Walsh added: “He was the person who knew where everything was and how to do things.

“He was solid gold, reliable, caring and compassionate.

“You just knew that he was going to be there when you went in.”

Brian used to go to King’s Lynn, or ‘Lynn’ as he called it, twice a month on the bus and always on Tuesdays.

Bus driver Michael Elcombe, 45, of Cley Road in Swaffham, Norfolk, also died as a result of the crash.

A further 17 people were injured with six suffering serious injuries and the remaining suffering minor injuries. The majority of the people injured were from Peterborough, with one from Hunstanton in Norfolk.

The circumstances of the collision are still being investigated, but no arrests have been made.

In a fresh statement released today Steve Wickers, Managing Director at First Eastern Counties buses said: “It was a very sad day yesterday for everyone involved in what was a devastating incident on the A47 in Guyhirn.

“I, along with my local team would like to send our sincere condolences to the families, friends and colleagues who have lost a loved one from the incident and to extend my thoughts to those who sustained injuries, who I hope all have speedy recoveries.

“I would also like to thank the Police and the Emergency Services for their support yesterday, in what was a very traumatic situation to manage.

“Today has been a challenge, especially for the colleagues and friends of Michael our driver at Kings Lynn bus depot, who sadly lost his life.

“But as true professionals and as dedicated as they are, our drivers have all come into work this morning and are providing a full service for customers wanting to travel on our Excel service between Peterborough, Kings Lynn and Norwich.”