Busman Billy Boyle was given a fond farewell – and a cake – on retiring from the strath’s community transport company after six hard-working, voluntary years.
Said social development officer Ros Munro: “He was much loved by all who boarded his minibus, or came into contact with him. A larger than life character who will be sorely missed, but we wish him all the best in his retirement and happy times to share with his family.”
A collection was raised for Billy, of Kingussie, from clients, volunteers and staff, who arranged for renowned local artist Ann Vastano to paint him a specially commissioned painting as a retiral gift – not to mention an extra parting gift of an hour’s flying lesson!
Said Ros: “In 2015 I nominated Billy for a Scottish Accessible Transport Alliance (SATA) Award for Individual Achievement in services to accessible transport and he won.
“Always humble, Billy was initially annoyed with me for doing this, saying, ‘I’m just doing my job.’ We travelled to Edinburgh to collect his award and Billy pulled off a great emotive speech about the importance of accessible transport.
“Maggie told me to take him somewhere of his choice after the ceremony, as a wee treat before the train home. Billy chose to visit Ann Vastano’s exhibition and she was over the moon when we showed up. He told me then how much he loved her work, so this is where we got the idea for his gift. His daughter Cara and I gave Ann some ideas and Billy never had a clue what was happening.
“Ann kindly agreed to attend our monthly music afternoon in Glen Grove, Newtonmore, to present Billy with his painting. She and Maggie arrived halfway through proceedings, just before tea time to surprise him. He was overawed and very emotional, but gave a from the heart speech thanking everyone and saying, ‘This has been the best job I’ve ever had.’
“Maggie presented him with a special cake, made by Ashers, and once Billy cut it, everyone got a slice with their tea.”
Regular service user, Valerie Cornwell, from Aviemore, thanked Billy on behalf of all clients and said what a difference he had made to her and her late husband, Edward’s, lives.