From grandfather to grandson at Belle Vue
Belle Vue Manchester’s oldest coach driver, John Gilbody (73) is helping the operator’s youngest recruit earn his spurs – his grandson Luie Mulcair (22).
Louie joined the Stockport-based operator after being made redundant from his previous job during the pandemic. He started as a valeter and has since been offered a chance to train as a driver. Having passed his qualifications, he was assigned to school bus routes and coach trips.
Louie and John, who both live in Stockport, have teamed up for a number of trips, including taking Manchester City fans to Wembley matches, a wedding party to London and charity bike riders to Blackpool.
“It’s been great when we’ve been paired together on trips, and I get a lot of pleasure from seeing him thriving in his career” – John Gilbody
John said: “Louie has done very well for himself. He qualified with flying colours, and is now gaining experience across the range of services that Belle Vue operates.
“It’s been great when we’ve been paired together on trips, and I get a lot of pleasure from seeing him thriving in his career.
“Louie comes and asks me questions about routes he’s been assigned to, and I try to help wherever I can, although he does a lot of the necessary research himself.
“It’s strange to think that, in a way, he is following the career path I took so many years ago.
“I, too, was made redundant, from my job driving bulldozers and other heavy plant in 1979, and I switched to become a bus conductor and then a driver.
“I’ve travelled a lot driving coaches over the years. I’ve been to more than a dozen countries, and I still love the experience of visiting new and different places.”
John joined Belle Vue 12 years ago. He originally trained with what was then Greater Manchester Transport and moved to its specialist coaching unit, Charterplan, in 1984.
“When I first met Louie, he came across as an outstanding young man and it was a no-brainer to get him trained and qualified” – Phil Hitchen, managing director of Belle Vue
Phil Hitchen, managing director of Belle Vue, said: “I guess it’s unusual to have a grandfather and grandson in the same driving team. John has been a leading driver with us for over a decade. His attitude and professionalism are first-class, and in 2016 he was a runner-up for the UK coach driver of the year award.
“When I first met Louie, he came across as an outstanding young man and it was a no-brainer to get him trained and qualified. We have many people from the same families working at Belle Vue, which helps to create a close working atmosphere, and John and Louie are no exception.”