June 19 2013 Latest news:
Saturday, December 29, 2012
A 101-YEAR-OLD war veteran who was left stranded by a coach driver in the cold, 50 miles away from his destination, has enjoyed Christmas with his family in Suffolk despite the ordeal.
Great-grandfather Lenard Goddard caught the bus from his Derbyshire home so he could spend the festive season with his grand-daughter in Haverhill. But after it stopped in Cambridge for a ‘comfort break’ and a change of driver, the National Express coach drove off again, leaving Mr Lenard behind.
The quick-thinking centenarian, who had left his coat and luggage on board, managed to find another National Express coach driver at the stop. After a series of phone calls, the original vehicle was tracked down and stopped twenty miles away on the A14 near Newmarket, while a taxi transported Mr Goddard to rejoin it.
Recalling the moment when he came out of the waiting room and realised the coach had vanished, Mr Goddard said: “I couldn’t believe it. It was very cold and I just had a thin jacket so I asked another driver for help.
“I have been travelling on this route for years and this is the first time this has happened. The driver should have carried out a head count to ensure that everyone was back on the coach. Luckily in the end I saw the funny side of things.”
Mr Goddard - who still lives on his own in the house he built himself after being widowed 34 years ago - left his home at 11.50am and had been due in Ipswich seven hours later after the 130-mile journey.
His grand-daughter Darrell Thompson, 50, from Hadleigh – who arranged for an Army Apache helicopter to stage a fly-past her home on Mr Goddard’s 100th birthday last year – described her granddad as “very independent”.
She said: “He has certainly lost none of his marbles. But when he came out of the restroom he was worried when he saw the coach had vanished with his coat and luggage. The coach company acted pretty quickly when they realised what had happened and so granddad was only an hour later arriving at Ipswich – and he made it here for Christmas which is the main thing.”
A spokeswoman for National Express said: “This was a really unfortunate incident and we are sorry for the issue Mr Goddard experienced.
“There was a driver change at a scheduled stop and afterwards other passengers realised the gentlemen was missing. A taxi was immediately sent so that he could re-join the service.”