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Wednesday, 8 July 2015

7th July 2005



Today was the anniversary of the London bombings - three on the Underground and one on a route 30 bus.

This anniversary is recognised annually but on this tenth occasion there were simultaneous marks of respect at each of the sites, as well as at the permanent memorial in Hyde Park and a service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral.

Survivors, families, colleagues and friends were joined by passers-by at each of the locations.

Whilst Commissioner of Transport Sir Peter Hendy accompanied the Prime Minister and Metropolitan Police Commissioner at Hyde Park, London Underground Managing Director Mike Brown attended Kings Cross.

For my part I went to Tavistock Square - the site of the explosion that killed 13 people on a route 30 bus which was on diversion due to the earlier incidents. The bomb detonated outside the British Medical Association who were also represented today along with the gallant and brave members of TfL staff, the emergency services, and the public, putting themselves at risk if further devices were to go off. 

With me was George Psarakadis (pictured) - the Stagecoach bus driver of that 30 bus.  He steadfastly continues to drive London’s bus passengers but today we walked, side-by-side to place the wreaths at the Tavistock Square memorial site.

Later we went to St Paul’s Cathedral for a memorable and moving service of remembrance. All of the faiths were represented and the service was attended by the Prime Minister, past and present Mayors, Ministers and members of the London Assembly. With us all were the families and survivors of that terrible day.

Uplifted by the music, words and prayers of the service we left the main entrance of St Paul’s to London going about its business as usual. As it did immediately after those terrible events of ten years ago.

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Sunday, 14 June 2015

Donald Allmey

Former London coach operator Don Allmey, who founded and ran Allmey Coaches of Eastcote, died on 6th June aged 78.

Don was more than just a family coach operator which were typical in London and elsewhere in the post-war years. Both Don and his wife Jean were well-known to their loyal customers for very many years and their fleet a familiar sight.

Don and his late brother Allan, had a special interest in old London buses. In the 1960s, they formed together with Prince Marshall of Old Motor Magazine, the London Bus Preservation Group. In the early 1970s they broke new ground by securing a former Vickers building in Weybridge and created the first undercover private museum for London buses. The collections of vibrant and working London buses through the years owned by private individuals, owes a tremendous amount to their foresight and courage often at huge personal risk given the guarantees and commitments required.

That museum now lives on in a different location, inside Brooklands Museum. It is open to the public daily - an extraordinary achievement inconceivable in those early days.

Allan and his wife Lyn were tragically killed in a car accident in 1978. Don and Jean brought up their young nephew William, together with their own children: Victoria is married to Des Maybury, Director of the Big Bus Tours empire, whilst in another twist of genealogy, son Martin works in vintage vehicle restoration with Prince's son Sebastian.

An old fashioned entrepreneur (although he would have considered that a posh word for 'wheeler dealer'), Don ran a successful business selling spares, parts and vehicles. His encyclopaedic knowledge of AEC products and their workings made him always in demand.

Don belonged to a special era when deals were done on personal knowledge and trust, and his eye for business was as acute as his kindness and genuine desire to help others.

He and Jean retired to Cyprus. However, after his onset of dementia, they returned to England. For some years now Don had been in full-time care. As is often the case, recollections of some wonderful days in the past would reawaken his otherwise declining awareness, always bringing a smile to his face.

The funeral is on 22nd June.