OVER 30 dedicated staff who have helped thousands of Cumbrians get from A to B for a combined total of more than 800 years have been recognised for their hard work.

Stagecoach Cumbria and North Lancashire held an awards event for its long-serving employees at the Low Wood Bay Resort and Spa, Windermere, on Friday.

In total 34 awards were given to people working across a variety of roles in the business, recognising between 20 and 40 years of service. Those receiving the awards have worked for Stagecoach Cumbria and North Lancashire for a combined total of 865 years.

Among them were Willie McPhail, operations manager at the Stagecoach depot in Barrow and Richard Martin, operations manager at Stagecoach Kendal.

Richard, 61, who lives in Kirkby Lonsdale, first joined the company as a minibus driver in Workington 35 years ago.

He said: "I became a leading driver in Workington and then I got a chance to go on the first Stagecoach staff development programme.

"It was a seven-month intensive training course and then I went back to Workington and became assistant operations manager and eventually operations manager.”

Richard made the move to work in the Kendal depot six years ago.

“It's been a steady progression throughout my career and there's always been a new challenge," he said.

“You just don't know what's going to happen on a day-to-day basis. There is something different every day in the Lakes. Obviously, we've had to deal with Covid in the last couple of years. We've bounced back well, but that has brought its own problems as it's just so busy.

“Kendal is a small depot with about 60 drivers, and it’s got a real family feel. Everyone who comes here comments on how friendly it is.”

Willie, 64, served in submarines in the Royal Navy before he initially joined Stagecoach in the early nineties. He then went and joined the Australian Navy for three years before returning to work for Stagecoach in 1996.

Originally from Edinburgh, he came to Barrow in 1983 to serve on HMS Turbulent and met his wife, Jackie.

In his time with Stagecoach he has worked in a variety of roles in locations including Barrow, Carlisle, Morecambe, and Swindon.

"I've always liked the company structure and they've looked after me well," said Willie.

"It's a small depot at Barrow and so I have to wear lots of hats, dealing with staffing, health and safety and obviously the operational side and the business going forward. I like to be involved across the business in that way.

"I think what I enjoy most is managing the different types of people who come through to be drivers. It’s the people that make the job and the business.”

Stagecoach Cumbria and North Lancashire managing director Rob Jones said: “Congratulations once again to everyone who received a long service award on Friday evening.  To have all that experience together under one roof and to have the opportunity to thank people for supporting the company, each other and – most importantly – our passengers over the decades is a fantastic achievement.”