FOR Arthur Pearson driving a bus was not just a job, it was his life.
During his employment, the Rose Hill 88-year-old met his wife Jean, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and a host of friends.
He loved his job so much that after retiring aged 65 in 1989, he returned to Oxford Bus Company the following day to work part-time.
Now nearly 24 years after his first retirement – and an incredible 65 years’ service – Mr Pearson has been given a send-off to remember as he finally bowed out of the company.
A round of applause and cheers greeted the great-grandfather as he arrived at the company’s headquarters in Cowley for his surprise leaving do yesterday.
Mr Pearson, who has one son, three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, said: “I’ve been very lucky, I have always been working. You may call it work but for me coming to work is coming to play – I loved driving in the first place.
“It is a regret that I’m retiring, medically I have got to. Old age has caught up with me.
“Going to work for me has been like going home. I’ve enjoyed every minute.”
Mr Pearson joined the Oxford Bus Company aged 23 on February 3, 1948, following in his father Harry’s footsteps, who was a bus driver in Yorkshire.
His first role was as a bus driver on the number eight bus, which started at Beechey Avenue in Marston and went to Oxford Railway Station.
Mr Pearson met his wife Jean when she became his conductor in 1949 and they married in 1951. They were together for 46 years until her death in September 1997.
Mr Pearson, whose son Michael was also a bus driver in the 1960s, eventually became an inspector in 1970 after a spell as a trainer of conductors.
After reaching retirement age he returned to the company as a driver, a conductor and then in customer relations at Gloucester Green.
He then liaised between the company’s headquarters and Debenhams in Oxford, which sells the Key smartcard.
Mr Pearson said: “I shall just enjoy getting around and walking by the river. I get such satisfaction knowing that after all I made a good job of it.”
Mr Pearson met then Prime Minister Mr Brown during the election campaign in Oxford in 2010.
Philip Kirk, Oxford Bus Company managing director, called Mr Pearson a “perfect gentleman” and added: “This year we have been here for 130 years and Arthur has been with us for half of that time. That is an incredible achievement.
“Whether it’s with dealing the passengers, colleagues or even the Prime Minister, Arthur is just the same and handles people with great charm and courtesy.”
Oxford East MP Andrew Smith said: “It is an absolutely remarkable story of service to the company and to the community.”
The news in 1948
London hosted the Olympic Games.
The National Health Service was founded.
Indian pacifist Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated.
The UK Prime Minister was Clement Attlee and it was a Labour government.
Arsenal won the First Division Championship.
Oxford and District Ironmongers’ Assistants’ Association voted to allow women employees into the organisation.
North Hinksey parishioners said they were being kept “in the dark” over plans for a community centre.
A Meals on Wheels scheme was launched in Oxford.
It was reported that six acres of Cutteslowe Park might be released from food production for leisure.