Rail strikes: Network Rail pays for taxi from Newcastle to Suffolk for best friend to attend funeral

Best friends Bob Boak and Roy Buttle
Bob Boak and Roy Buttle had been friends for 60 years. Credit: Family photo

A widow who feared her husband's best friend would not be able to go to his funeral because of the rail strikes says she is delighted after Network Rail agreed to pay for a taxi.

Margaret Buttle, from Haughley, Suffolk, lost her husband Roy Buttle to cancer last month after 53 years of marriage.

Bob Boak met Mr Buttle 60 years ago when they served together at RAF Wittering and was hoping to travel from Newcastle for the service on Saturday.

But it looked as if the rail strikes would leave Mr Boak, who is now in his 80s, stranded hundreds of miles from his best friend's funeral.

However, after Mrs Buttle told her story on local radio, Network Rail said it would pay for a taxi to make sure that Mr Boak - known as "Geordie" - could say farewell to his best friend.

Bob Boak who can now attend his best friend's funeral despite the rail strikes Credit: ITV News

Mrs Buttle said: "[Geordie] said 'I think I'm going to have to not come down' and my world just dropped.

"[Roy] and Geordie had been friends for years and it was like piece of the jigsaw for Saturday was missing, but now it's gone back in.

"I can't believe that out of all the hundreds of people in this country who aren't able to do things, we are maybe the only people or one of a handful that they've actually done this for.

"It's absolutely amazing and thank you isn't enough. But what else can you say?"

Roy Buttle's widow Margaret Credit: ITV News

Now Mr Boak can keep a promise he made just before Mr Buttle passed away and say goodbye to his old friend in person.

He said: "He phoned me up one day to say 'I expect you'll be at the funeral - and I'll be looking down to make sure you are'.

"He was like a brother to me and always had my back.

"He was a really true friend."

Network Rail said: "We wanted to help Margaret after recognising the exceptional circumstances of this situation."

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