'It's the end of my life': Coach driver shares redundancy woes as exclusive stats reveal devastation to industry

Coach driver and business owner Credit: ITV News

A coach driver who has been made redundant after working for the Isle of Wight tours company has described the experience as the "end of his life".

Mark Flynn told ITV News Correspondent Richard Pallot: "Each day I wake up and I think is this a bad dream? But it isn't, it's happening and it's the end of my life as I see it.

He added: "It's just awful, if I just look at it and sort of reminisce, that was my life. Walking up to the coach...

"The proudest moment for me was when people used to get off my coach and I'd given them an experience that hopefully they'd remember for the rest of their lives and I'd be a little part of their life.

"And well it's just all gone now, it's not the case is it? So, yes it's very difficult and it's very difficult being here looking at the vehicle and all I want to do is get on it and go and pick some people up."

His manager has had her company recently go into administration, because of the second wave of coronavirus.

Isle of Wight bus tour company owner, Shirley Winn, said she did not think her career would end the way it has.

She said: "I've been in the industry 42 years, I never expected it to end like this and it has.

"I remember many years ago saying to my parents, one day I will have my own coach company and I did but not now," she added.

She added that she has had to remortgage her own home in a bid to try and keep her company afloat and refund customers.

She told ITV News that she wanted to tell the drivers at her company herself, rather than having an external company tell them they were being let go.

Ms Winn said: "The administrator said once it happens we will come in and we will do the redundancies for you, I said 'you won't', I said 'nobody is telling them but me'." 

She added: "And I had to phone each one up individually on a Sunday afternoon because I knew the administrators were going to come in and I actually spoke to each one, everyone of them, because they are my team, my family. I did not want them to come and be told that their 26-year career, 23-year career, 10-year career was over." 

When asked what her message would be to the government, she said: "Wake up, smell the coffee, you're going to miss them when they're gone, help these family run industries that take a pride in what they do and help save them while you still can." 

Tim Southby of Heathside Travel in Bournemouth has wanted to drive a coach since he was a boy - and is determined his firm won't be one of the casualties.

These comments come as an exclusive survey for ITV News has found that more than 75% of operators expect to see their turnover drop by over 50% from normal levels between October and December 2020.

A business confidence survey, conducted by CPT, also found that one in four businesses are expecting a more than 90% drop.

Furthermore, the survey found six out of 10 operators expect to make reductions to their staffing numbers between now and the end of the year.

Looking ahead to 2021, the survey also revealed that seven out of 10 operators expect January to March 2021 to see their turnover at least 50% down on normal levels for the time of year.

In a statement, a Department for Transport spokesperson said:

We know how badly the industry has been hit by Covid-19 and we continue to work closely with the sector to provide it with support as well as anticipating upcoming challenges. This includes the support the Chancellor has set out for UK businesses as part of the Winter Economy Plan.

Department of Transport