Isle of Wight bus passengers have gathered to celebrate the birthday of Southern Vectis’ much-loved driver Jacqueline Levy.
The unusual gathering, which took place at the George Inn, was recognition of the popular driver’s standing within the community.
“My husband Keith is currently in hospital and has been for six weeks. I use the Route 6 bus every day to visit him - and it’s wonderful having Jacqueline as a driver who asks after him without fail,” said passenger Jan Chambers. “She has a genuine care for all her customers and I’m delighted we could gather to celebrate her special day."
Fellow passenger Jean McCallum added: “Jacqueline knows all our names - she even checks to ensure that windows en route are either shut or open as expected. She looks for us at the stop too.”
For passenger Doreen Taylor, travelling with Jacqueline is a unique and enjoyable experience: “We daren’t tell anyone it’s our birthday, as Jacqueline makes us all sing along," she said.
And friend Jeanette Lidstone said: “She is really lovely and bubbly - she talks to everyone and makes us all feel so welcome and comfortable.”
Route 6 regulars Molly and Paul Lucas said: “This route is quite simply a lifeline to us. We don’t drive anymore and look forward to our journeys with Jacqueline. She makes the trip fun and we’ve never known anyone like her.”
The bond Jacqueline enjoys with her passengers is so strong that she organised a special Christmas meal for them in 2017 at The White Lion in Niton. And, during the bad weather brought on by the Beast from the East earlier this year, Jacqueline offered a room for the night to a stranded passenger.
“I think it’s so important to build strong relationships with those who travel along this route,” she said. “Many of them no longer drive - and some don’t get to see and chat to people at other times of the day. I was so pleased to celebrate my birthday with them, and look forward to spending many happy years ahead on the buses with those I consider to be my very good friends.”