Former part-time coach driver Melvyn Wilkins is appealing for help from Stroud Times readers for a book he is researching about continental coach travel.
Melvyn gained his PSV (Public Service Vehicle) licence in 1978, taught and put through his test by David Hand of Rover Coaches in Horsley.
“I drove part-time for Rover Coaches for about eight years then moved to Ebley Coaches for about another five years, still part-time,” explained Melvyn.
“In the late 1970’s a group of local Stroud scouts and leaders would travel to Switzerland across New Year on an annual skiing holiday. These trips were undertaken in several minibuses, mainly owned by scout groups and private individuals, one of those belonging to David Hand.
“Conversation over years gave way to the trips being undertaken by Rover Coaches, but how to get the number of drivers required for such a venture was problematic. One scout leader was already driving part-time for Rover but another was needed – as I was a venture scout leader on these trips the suggestion was that I should become a second driver, but first I had to get a licence!
“David taught me and got me through my test and thereafter I too became a part-time driver for Rover. I drove to Switzerland on two occasions – 1979 and 1980 – and photographs and memories from these trips have encouraged me to write this book.”
Aged 11 Melvyn travelled to Swizerland with his parents and sister with Beavis Travel: “This was the start of my love affair with Switzerland, a country I have now visited more than 70 times, and which even encouraged me to publish a book about those travels there over 58 years – Switzerland. The scenery, the people, the trains – The whole experience.
The book is still in the research stage and Melvyn has collected 100 photos from sources on the internet and a few supplied initially by David Hand and Anita Baxter (Beavis): “To make it complete I need some photos, stories and anecdotes from those thousands of passengers who went there over the years.
“My Switzerland book was marketed by me direct through social media and other online groups, and copies were sent globally. This one will probably be done the same way along with perhaps some local shops selling copies on my behalf and advertised within the Stroud area.
“This is not a ‘money making’ venture but something that I can do in the winter months. With my last book I said that if I sell one copy I will be satisfied, much the same philosophy with this one too. Following bowel cancer surgery in 2017 I retired from full time employment as an account manager within Allianz Insurance, then did charity work for 2 years in the Forest of Dean (where I now live) until the charity folded early this year.
“Shortly I will be going back to hospital for some remedial surgery which will mean I won’t be quite as active, so writing another book is going to be good for my wellbeing.”
Anyone who can help should email: firstname.lastname@example.org or text on 07866 459170.