A Norfolk Green double-decker bus has been named Reis L Leming – George Medal in honour of the young American airman who rescued 27 people from the floods resulting from the tidal surge, which struck Hunstanton on the night of January 31 1953.
A fortnight ago, on February 4 2013, in a fitting way to end a memorable visit, this bus carried Reis Leming’s widow, Kathy and his daughter, Debra to Lynn railway station on the first leg of their journey back to the United States.
They both asked me to convey their sincere thanks to all those responsible for making them feel so much at home here in West Norfolk.
My own special thanks go to Rob Bennett of Norfolk Green for getting the bus ready in time and to David Bell from Ingoldisthorpe who suggested naming the bus to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the floods. David also took photographs of its official unveiling outside the Princess Theatre, where commemorative presentations were staged.
On the day, Ben Colson, managing director of Norfolk Green met the Leming family including Michael Leming who returned home on February 2 – and members of the 67th Special Operations Squadron.
Tomorrow evening Ben Colson will be addressing a larger audience as guest
speaker giving a presentation hosted by Hunstanton Civic Society in the Town Hall starting at 7.30pm entitled: Lynn to Hunstanton – better by bus or train?
Admission is free to members, with non-members paying £3.
Ben was born and raised in West Suffolk; went to school in Bury St Edmunds; started work in the bus industry in 1968, but left to take a degree in transport management in 1970-74.
He then joined the National Bus Company as a graduate management trainee, working in various parts of the country, including Norwich and Cambridge. His first senior management post was in the south-west in 1983.
Two years later he was transferred to Northampton where he experienced the upheavals of bus deregulation in 1986.
Stagecoach then bought this state-owned company and Ben remained with them until 2002, mostly as a commercial director in various parts of the country, but in 1995 he bought Norfolk Green from its founder, Tony Haynes.
Stagecoach agreed to employ him on a part-time basis until his company was large enough to demand his full-time attention.
Today, in addition to being MD of Norfolk Green, Ben represents the interests of small independent bus operators in their dealings with central government.