Veteran school bus driver Charlie MacGillivray has been cleared for another three years at the wheel at the age of 84.
Charlie has been safely delivering kids to school in the Yorkshire Dales for 46 years.
He’s now carrying the grandchildren of the kids who first stepped onto his 24 seater bus back in the mid 1970s.
Charlie had considered retiring when he was 75, but after the sudden death of his wife Carol he decided to continue to keep himself busy.
That was nine years ago and he now plans to go on “for as long as it feels right”.
By law older drivers must reapply for their licence at the age of 70 and every three years after that – and Charlie, from Leyburn, has just flown through his latest medical.
He said: “I keep having medicals and eyesight tests and I passed the most recent one two weeks ago so I’m fit and ready for work.
“It’s always nice to be given the all clear because I really love this job, I couldn’t imagine giving it up just yet it gives me a lot of pleasure to see the kids twice a day and make sure they get the school and back safely.
“I’m now carrying the grandchildren of the first pupils who got on my bus, I’ve seen at least three generations of some families and that’s one of the things that makes it such a pleasure.
“I feel just as alert as I ever did and the kids are very safe when they get on my bus, as long as it feels right I will keep doing it.
“I’ll know when it is time to stop, if I felt unhappy at the wheel I’d give up but as things stand I feel good and love it as much as I ever did.
“I feel very lucky to have done this job for so long. It’s a beautiful part of the world, the children here are lovely and very well behaved.
“After doing the job so long I know how to impose my authority but in all honesty I never have to, they are great kids on my bus to the two primary schools I serve.
“Of course sometimes they get excitable, but all it takes is a word of warning. They are pretty high just now because we’re coming up to Christmas but you have to make allowances for that.
“A lady stopped me in Askrigg the other day and said she remembered me as the driver of her school bus, I think it’s something you never really forget.
“She’s now a grandmother herself which brought home how long I’ve been doing this.”
The Scot moved down to North Yorkshire half a century ago and at first was a lorry driver before the vacancy became clear to drive school buses.
He now works for Fosters Coaches of Redmire, and takes children to two schools, Askrigg Primary and Bainbridge C of E school, which are both near Leyburn.
It was never Charlie’s plan to be driving into his eighties.
He said: “I would have retired at 75 but as I was thinking about it I lost my wife, Carol.
“She died from cancer at the age of 61 and it was quite sudden. I just felt that I needed to keep myself busy, I don’t know what I’d have done if I’d have retired at that point.
“I was glad to keep going and seeing the kids every day lifted my spirits so I just kept on and on. I don’t have any date in mind for giving it up, it’s such a big part of my life.
“I’m lucky to have a very close family with six grandchildren and two great grandchildren of my own. They help keep me young.”
Charlotte Harper, executive head of Bainbridge Askrigg and West Burton schools, described Charlie as a “local hero”.
“I don’t think that there is a family in Wensleydale who hasn’t been touched by Charlie’s caring and sprightly manner as he drives our young people around.
“From school runs to sporting fixtures; theatre trips and tournaments, Charlie has probably driven every Wensleydale child to and from somewhere exciting, doing so with his famous good cheer and encouraging nature.
“Much loved by the whole community, Charlie goes way beyond his driver duties to offer kindness and support to our children and their families.
“Most of our parents remember Charlie from their own school days too – he really has committed himself to generations of bus travel!”