A touching tribute to COVID-19 bus driver Keith who worked in the Chorley and Leyland area
A well-known local bus driver who became a victim of Covid-19 will take his final journey with a fitting tribute next week.
Keith Powell, 59, was a driver in the Chorley and Leyland area for more than 30 years.
He worked for both the former Leyland-based John Fishwick and Sons and national operator Stagecoach.
His funeral on Monday (November 30) will be specially marked by a Fishwick's bus leading the procession at 1.45pm from his Princess Way home, Euxton, to Charnock Richard Crematorium.
At the request of Stagecoach, the procession will go through Chorley bus station at around 2pm where Keith's work colleagues and members of the public can pay their respects and wave him through.
Stagecoach have also arranged for one of their buses to join the back of the procession.
Keith's son Gareth Powell said his dad would have been proud of the touching tribute.
He said: "We’ve had hundreds of messages from people that knew my dad.
"He was a much-loved man by current and past work colleagues and members of the public that my dad used to carry around on his bus.
"As we are only allowed thirty people at the service, we felt we had to do something to give my dad the best send off we can."
Gareth continued: "Due to the circumstances of my dad's passing, my mum and brother were unable to be with him when he passed away in the early hours of November 17 at Royal Preston Hospital.
"Dad tested positive for COVID-19 on November 9.
"Throughout the following week, my dad's health deteriorated and on Sunday, November 15, he was admitted to Royal Preston Hospital after suffering breathing difficulties.
"He was rushed straight to ICU COVID ward where he was found to have contracted COVID pneumonia.
"After 24 hours of treatment, nothing more could be done to save my dad and he unfortunately passed away in the early hours of Tuesday, November 17."
Keith and his wife Denise celebrated their pearl wedding anniversary on June 1 this year after 30 years of marriage.
Gareth said his father had provided "unbelievable support" for Denise over the last 10 years due to her own health issues.
Keith started working on the buses for Stagecoach Chorley in 1994 before moving to John Fishwick & Sons in 1997.
After serving nearly 20 years for Fishwicks he rejoined Stagecoach in 2015.
Gareth said: "The family have been overwhelmed with the messages of support and well wishes from members of the public that knew my dad so well after nearly thirty years of driving the buses in and around the Chorley and Leyland area."
He gave a few examples of the messages received:
* “Keith was my bus driver when I went to school many years ago, always had time for anyone, sleep tight Keith”
* “I always chatted to him on the 111 and then recently on the 125. RIP Keith, you’ll be sadly missed”
* “How very sad, knew Keith from my high school days. He was one of the funniest bus drivers and had the kindest of souls. Fly high my friend”
Gareth continued: "The family are still in shock at how sudden and devastating this virus can be.
"We can take some comfort from all the messages of support and well wishes we have received.
"We’ve also had unbelievable support from friends and family but also dad's place of work, Stagecoach.
"They have been fantastic with the family since the tragic loss of my dad.
"The family already had the idea of the procession going through Chorley bus station.
"Stagecoach also requested if this could happen and fully supported the idea to enable my dad to have the best send off possible in the current difficult climate.
"Dad will be a great loss, not only for the family, but also for the local community and Stagecoach.
"He was a well-loved person by so many and will be sadly missed by all."
Keith leaves his wife Denise and three children, Gareth, Sarah and Nathan, along with three grandchildren, Dillan, Mollie and Poppy.
His funeral will take place at Charnock Richard Crematorium at 2.30pm on Monday.