TRIBUTES have been paid to an award-winning bus engineer.
Jim Hilton died suddenly after suffering a heart attack last week.
The 66-year-old, originally from South Ribble, was engineering manager at Preston Bus from 2008 and held director engineering roles since 1986 within the bus and coach industry, at companies including Shearings, Blackburn Transport and Clydeside 2000.
The life-long Liverpool FC fan had recently taken on the role of group engineering manager for Rotala.
Colleagues say Jim saw Preston Bus through a difficult period, followed by its sale to Stagecoach and the subsequent ‘hold separate’ arrangements imposed by the Competition Commission.
He is widely credited with raising engineering standards at Preston Bus and in 2011 he was the special award winner at the routeONE Operator Excellence Awards.
In 2012 he was instrumental in Preston Bus winning the BIBAs Green Business of the Year Award and Preston Bus has been selected as a finalist in the 2013 award with its investment in hybrid technology.
Bob Dunn, managing director at Preston Bus, said: “Jim was so enthusiastic about his new role as group engineering manager with Rotala, who would have benefitted from his many years experience, technical ability and dedication in the bus industry.
“His sound principles and values fitted our ethos, there was never any question of him compromising quality. There was never any suggestion that he aimed for anything less than the highest standards in terms of vehicle maintenance and procedures. He had courage to stand up for what was right and proper.”
He added: “I will miss Jim as a working colleague, experienced, knowledgeable professional and of course as a friend.”