Tributes to much-loved South Shields coach driver Eddie Harker, who built up business after starting out with ex-police minibus

Tributes have been paid to much-loved coach driver and businessman Eddie Harker, who has died aged 80.

Eddie was the founder and co-owner of Harker’s Coaches, based in Tudor Road, South Shields, taking people on countless journeys over half a century.

His family said he dedicated to serving his local community alongside his son, Jason, who joined the family business back in 1986.

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Eddie set the company up after a spell working at Northern Buses in the 1970s.

Eddie Harker

He bought a second-hand ex-police minibus which he painted and converted himself, starting his private coach business Harker’s Coaches.

It wasn’t long before the business began to grow and in 1980 the coach firm moved into a purpose built premises on Tudor Road, where it continues to operate from today.

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Eddie’s family said over the years Harker’s Coaches has served many South Tyneside schools and businesses.

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Eddie with his coach

Eddie took members from the community young and old on frequent trips and holidays all over the country including Thurston and Walsingham – and the company also offered international tours abroad.

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His family, friends and customers have been paying tribute his to the businessman after he died peacefully at home, with his loving wife Kay by his side, on Tuesday, 19 July.

In a statement, his family said: “Eddie had a wonderful sense of humour and an infectious smile that he carried with him wherever he went. He was well known and loved within South Shields.

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“To us, he was generous and loving husband, Dad, Granda and Great-Granda whom we will cherish dearly and carry in our hearts.”

Eddie’s family said they would like to take the opportunity to thank the people of South Tyneside, those who were friends of Eddie and past and present customers who have supported the family business over the years as it wouldn’t have been able to run without them.

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They said Eddie loved all the years he spent working on the coaches making many memories and cherished friends in the town.

The business will continue to operate under Eddie’s wife, Kay and son, Jason.

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A funeral service to commemorate Eddie’s life will be held at St. Hilda’s Church, South Shields, Friday, 5 August, at 10.30am.