Polegate bus man is given Queen’s medal

A Polegate man who brought a community bus to East Sussex has been given a British Empire Medal by the Queen in her birthday honours list.

Philip Ayers said he was delighted to receive the accolade which was awarded for his hard work on Cuckmere buses and services to transport.

A British Empire Medal is awarded for outstanding civil or military service worthy of recognition by the Crown.

Cuckmere buses is a voluntary organisation which serves Hailsham, Berwick, Heathfield, Seaford and Eastbourne. It was set up in the 1970s when the area lost its bus service. And 36 years later it is still going strong.

Philip, who is managing director of Cuckmere buses, said: “I am delighted. I had a letter and when I opened it up and saw what it said I was amazed. It was not something I would have expected at all.

“It was for a variety of things but it was also for my work on the buses which has been 36 years now.

“South Downs, which was the bus company I worked for, withdrew its services from the area.

“The first community bus in the UK was in 1975 in Norfolk and they asked for a similar one here. I had worked with the bus company before it and they gave me the job and we worked with the county council and the community. It started running in 1976 and I am proud of how much we have achieved.

“We started with two buses and next month we will have eight. We started with eight drivers and we now have 60 and everyone is a volunteer.”

Philip is now waiting to find out where the presentation will be made but it will take place in Sussex by HM Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex Peter Field.