Head of Norfolk’s oldest family-run coach business bids tearful farewell after cancer diagnosis
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
Seeing the lot numbers slapped to the windscreens was the tipping point for coach operator Charles Reynolds that brought tears to his eyes.
After more than 100 years of family ownership an aggressive cancer diagnosis is forcing him to sell up.
Of the coaches, all famously named, he has a full set of Des O’Connor daughters, an American comedian, a princess, members of his own family including his devoted mother - and one man-van Master Adam.
And on Saturday everything from a top-of-the range executive coach to a set of spanners will go under the hammer, ending a transport era that spanned the holiday heyday to thousands of trips to school.
“It has been a heartbreaking experience in many ways,” he said.
“I did not realise we had so much stuff.
“This has never been just a job for me. It has been a means to an end financially but it has been much more than that.
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“To say ‘vocation’ would probably be an exaggeration. I get so attached. Whenever I have sold a vehicle I have patted it and when I have bought one and brought it home I have talked to it and said ‘this is going to be your home.’
“They become part of your life.
“They have never been tonnes of tin to me.”
“Selling up you feel a certain amount of guilt, my father died 20 years ago and my mother dedicated her life to this. I have wondered if I am letting them down.
“I have always done it for dedication and service.
“You work hard and get the job done and if you make a few bob along the way then that’s great.”
Mr Reynolds took the decision to sell up after he was diagnosed with cancer last year.
Chemotherapy seemed to work and he was given the all-clear. But the aggressive cancer has come back and he has started a new course of treatment.
MORE: ‘My heart says carry on but my head says take it easy’ - Norfolk coach firm to close after cancer diagnosisAuctioneers have been on site in Caister for the last few days organising the contents into some 300 lots.
The catalogue ranges from a £200,000 coach to a few tools and has been drawing interest from across the country.
Viewing is on Friday 10-4pm. The sale starts at 10am on Saturday with viewing from 8am.
Mr Reynolds, 62, has been involved in the business started by his grandfather since he was small.
He said: “I will be relieved not to have the stress and worry and if anything went wrong with me not putting all that worry on my family.
“I just pray I am going to have a good few years to come and a little bit of enjoyment and relaxation.”
He said the last three months had been the best for six years, adding: “We are going out on a high and that is something to be proud of.”
• For children who usually catch a Reynolds Coaches bus to school “it’s business as usual in September” according to Norfolk County Council.
A spokesman said: “Even though parents may notice a different bus and driver, the pick-up points and timetables will be the same, and passes will still be valid.
“The contracts have gone to a range of operators.”