The widow of Midhurst coach company boss Roger Richardson has pledged to keep the business going, saying it is ‘his legacy’.
Christine Richardson is now running the company which her husband founded in Sheffield in 1976.
Its modern fleet of blue single- and double-deckers are among the most familiar sights around the area, operating on school routes and private hire for day trips and tours.
Mr Richardson, who was 64, died suddenly on Sunday July 24.
He had been having treatment for a heart condition.
Roger Richardson was born in London, took a degree in chemistry at Nottingham University and did a teacher-training course at Sheffield where he later taught.
But from childhood his passion was coaches.
His school was just around the corner from a bus company’s premises – now the National Express coach station – where he was fascinated by the vehicles and the mechanics of them.
While still teaching, he took a part-time job driving for a coach company and in 1976 in Sheffield started his own small business, Richardson Travel, with a couple of coaches.
Three years later he gave up teaching to concentrate on the business.
Christine Richardson joined the company as an office clerk in 1983, and in 1986 the couple married.
He already had two daughters, Pippa and Nicki.
The couple moved south in 1989 – Mr Richardson’s parents lived at Fernhurst – after a South Yorkshire transport company made them an offer they could not refuse for their network of routes.
In October that year Richardson Travel took over the school routes and bus services operated by Weller’s Coaches.
Mrs Richardson recalled: “It was a struggle at first because 1989-91 was a time of recession but people started to recognise us and we were getting the quality work we wanted.
“It got to the point where we did not have to go looking for work.”
Today the company has 18 vehicles.
It employs ten full-time drivers and others, including Mrs Richardson, drive part-time.
There is also a mechanic, two office staff and a general manager.
Mrs Richardson says her new role at the helm is going to be a challenge which she may find difficult at times.
“But I am determined the business will keep going,” she said.
“The thought has never crossed my mind that it won’t because it is my life and Roger’s legacy.
“I have the support of a great team and I am confident we can get through and keep going from strength to strength.”