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End of a unique journey for Joan

Joan Johnson with her two sons and company directors Peter and John Johnson. (Submitted photo)
Joan Johnson with her two sons and company directors Peter and John Johnson. (Submitted photo)

FROM her first tour to Fort William, in Scotland, to her last in Llandudno, in Wales, a holiday courier has travelled the length and breadth of Britain with family-run Henley-in-Arden firm Johnsons Coach and Bus Travel.

But now after 60 years, she has decided to hang up her clipboard. When Joan Johnson joined the business in 1956, after marrying Roy Johnson, the firm was only operating three coaches, a furniture removal lorry and a taxi.

Mrs Johnson juggled bringing up her five children with office work and coach driving. Joan was also one of the first female coach drivers in the UK.

Her career as a holiday courier started in 1981, when she and her son John operated the company’s first inclusive tour. Since then she has escorted more than 350 tours to places all over the UK, Europe and the world.

With Mrs Johnson as their courier, passengers know to expect 'service with a smile, even if things go a bit wrong' which Mrs Johnson said is a good motto.

Since then she has watched the business grow from strength to strength; it has won many coach industry awards; it celebrated 100 years in business in 2009 and now it’s well known blue, yellow and white livery on its buses and coaches can be seen near and far — from Stratford to Switzerland.

Mrs Johnson, who celebrated her 80th birthday this year, said: “I have enjoyed every minute of it and will miss working with our friendly drivers, lovely customers and all the friends I have made over the years.”

She continued: “I will still be doing some presentation work, but I have finished touring now. I’m just getting into the theme of it [retirement] and I work one day a week at the Shakespeare Hospice, in Shottery, helping in the day centre. I will also be meeting friends.”

Mrs Johnson added: “I was married in 1956 and I have worked for the business ever since. I have been very lucky, I have done a lot of travelling. It really has been a very interesting life, and I have enjoyed 99 per cent of it.”

Son John Johnson, who is commercial director, added: “Mum’s probably done an average of just about ten tours a year for the last 35 years, so that must be about 350 tours. And to just about everywhere in Britain and Europe and many places worldwide too.

“She has always been available to help at short notice too, so she may need her clipboard again at some time!”

Joan will be missed by all of the many customers that she has escorted on holidays, and by the whole team at Johnsons, who have all wished her a happy retirement.

Johnsons Coach and Bus Travel is a family-run company based in Henley, which employs more than 250 people. It was established over 100 years ago and specialises in providing coach holidays, group tours, private coach hire and local bus services.

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