Tributes to South Shields’ bus firm veteran

Alan Douglass when he retired after 45 years with Stagecoach MD John Conroy
Alan Douglass when he retired after 45 years with Stagecoach MD John Conroy

Tributes have been paid to a much-loved and well-known former South Tyneside bus driver and conductor who has lost a year-long battle with cancer.

Alan Douglass, 71, spent 45 years in various roles with Stagecoach and its predecessor travel companies, affectionately becoming known as The Chief.

He retired exactly six years ago, devoting his retirement to spending time with his family, especially grandchildren Matthew, six, and Aaron, three.

But a year ago, the dad-of-two, of Braemar Drive, Horsley Hill, South Shields, was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus.

Despite a brave fight, Mr Douglass died at home on October 14, with his wife Margaret, 70, and children Kerry, 44, and Steven, 39, by his side.

Mrs Douglass, a retired retail clerk, said: “Alan was a friendly man who loved people and loved to talk.

“He loved his family deeply, especially his grandchildren. He loved taking Matthew to school and helping him to ride his bike.

“In his job, he always did his best to help other people.”

Mr Douglass started work as a conductor in 1967 with the South Shields Corporation Transport, and his roles over more than four decades also included inspector and controller.

When he retired in 2011, he was working as a duty officer, with responsibility for organising rotas.

On leaving, bosses presented him with a well-deserved long service award.

Janine Fowley, Operations Manager at Stagecoach in South Shields, said: “Without exception, everyone here who knew Alan has spoken very highly of him.

“He was very a well-regarded and hugely respected member of staff, who is remembered as a true gentleman who led by example and would go out of his way to assist and help anyone.

“Known affectionately as ‘The Chief’, Alan held various roles throughout his 45 years with the company. He will be sadly missed by all who knew him.”

Mr Douglass’ funeral takes place at St Michael’s Church, Westoe Road, South Shields, at 10.45am on Tuesday, October 31, followed by internment at Harton Cemetery.