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Tributes to children and teacher

Sunday November 17, 2013

On 18th November 1993, 12 children and their teacher died in the worst fatal minibus crash ever seen in the UK. This is now the 20th anniversary of that crash and BUSK and families who lost their sons and daughters in this crash are launching a national campaign called Now is the time...

The campaign will call for the complete scrapping of Permit 19 licenses that allow volunteer drivers to transport up to 16 passengers without ever having had to pass or obtain a specific driving license to drive a small bus and for all volunteer drivers to be required to work to a commercial standard. More information will be available on this website in the coming days.

Tributes have been arriving at BUSK's office in the last few days.  We have listed them below.  If you would like to add a tribute please email this to


We have met many of you over the years and cried with you.  You will always be in our hearts and thoughts, not just on this 20th anniversary but always.  We will fight with you and for you to ensure that your sons and daughters will never be forgotten.  

Pat Harris, Director, BUSK and Mike Nolan, Original member of Bucks Fizz.

I remember this horrific tragedy unfold in the news.  I was the same age and I will never forget. I would like to offer my best wishes for your campaign to safeguard other children who are currently at potential risk by the use of Permit 19.

Angharad Harris, South Wales.

As a parent, the worst experience for me would be to have to lay your children to rest. It should be the other way around. The fact that a whole community had to experience this is beyond comprehension. RIP to all involved and my thoughts are with those left behind on this anniversary.

Jamie Branagan, South Wales.

We strongly support your campaign for greater safety. Safety to a transport company is key making sure everything is in place and to the highest standard.

We agree that the loop holes in licensing is not strong enough and would like to support you and the family's with our support for the scrapping of permit 19.

Our thoughts go out to the family's involved and hope in the future they will see the changers if we stand together. Wishing you all the best.

Company Coaches, West Yorkshire.

My heart goes out to everyone who lost someone in this tragic accident, and myself would give my own life to save a child. The authorities continue to endanger young and vulnerable people's lives with the issuing of section 19 permits with over 140,000 issued road safety has been very much compromised all for the sake of saving money. Passengers should be carried by PSV commercial operators, not the so called third sector as it compromises road safety .

Martin Allen, J A Travel Ltd, Nottingham.

This is heartbreaking to read. All these years later & the legislation still hasn't been tightened on the Permit 19 license. As a parent as well as a coach operator I send my heartfelt sympathies to these parents & offer my full support in their plight to change the legislation.

Morag, Milligans Coach Travel Ltd, South Ayrshire. 

My thoughts are with the family with the festive season upon us, time is a great healer but loved ones will never been forgotten. The memories will last  for ever.

Minibus Executive Travel Ltd, Hertfordshire.

Our thoughts are with you as the 20th Anniversary of your sons and daughters deaths approaches.

Paul, D & H Harrod Coaches Ltd, Norfolk

We are so sorry

Tracey, Kevin, Peter and Carly, Liverpool.

May you be in everyones prayers and find comfort knowing that people have not forgotten about you and your children.  We care.

Stephenson family, Pocklington.

In our thoughts and prayers to give you strength.

Iris, Martin, Tina, Connie and David, Cumbria.

I still have all the reports of this tragic, unnecessary and totally avoidable accident from twenty years ago. One has to ask what has changed to ensure that children or any vulnerable adults are driven by professional drivers and not by teachers or members of the general public with just a car licence. The answer is nothing has changed because these vehicles are not licensed in the same way as commercial operators are and if they are involved in an accident it is not recorded, so nobody has a clue what the accident statistics’ are.  It can be argued that as there is no enforcement regulations on the statute book, these minibuses cannot be operating to the same standard as commercial operators are legally obligated to. Unfortunately while this two tier licensing system exists with different standards for maintenance the outlook is very poor.  Good luck with the campaign. I wish you well as at the moment the government is not listening.

Ian Ashman, Tyne & Wear.

The directors and staff at Woods fully support the parents of this tragedy in their fight to get the permit 19 licence abolished. The fact that little has changed in the last 20 years despite the terrible and unnecessary loss of life is a travesty.

Tina Shaw-Morton, Director, Woods Travel Ltd of Bognor Regis, West Sussex.

Friends and family are in our prayers as we remember those lives that were sadly taken to early 20 years ago.

Imperial Coaches Ltd, Southall.

Our family would like all those who lost a child in the Hagley minibus crash to know we are thinking of them and offer our support on this 20th anniversary.

Magee family, Birmingham.

As a responsible operator of buses and coaches, we are ever mindful of the constant need for safety and sensible regulation. Our hearts go out to the families of those who died on that fateful day 20 years’ ago.  May BUSK continue its wonderful support.

Karen Lockyer, Chalkwell Coach Hire and Tours, Kent.

I once attended a VOSA meeting with other operators about ten years ago. The Traffic Commissioner was very stern with her comments to us with regard to drivers' hours and told us that if drivers exceeded the hours permitted to drive without a break, and found ourselves in her court, she would be most severe with the fine and take away some of our licences.

Our company quoted a local school for a trip to London a few weeks before this meeting and because of the time scale and the running around in London it would require two drivers as it was a sixteen hour day. When I told the teacher the price he said that it was too expensive and that they would use their own minibus.

I asked the Traffic Commissioner how was it possible for a teacher to drive to London, take in all the sights, go to a show and then drive back as he was responsible for the children all day and he was unable to take a break. She looked to  one of the VOSA men present and said that the school operated under section 19 and it was outside of the EU regulations.

In my opinion the same rules should apply to all school teachers who drive children. I'm sorry to say that it may be only a matter of time before something happens again with a teacher who has been on his or her feet all day and then drives up to 16 children on a trip.

I wish the campaign success and my thoughts are with the family at this sad time.

Transport Operator, Name supplied but withheld by request.

You have our full support in this matter. We are a heavily regulated industry and it seems bizarre to us that schools can simply bypass commercial operators and utilise their own minibuses without any of the same checks – safety is being compromised to save money.

If schools need an electrician they contact a qualified professional – they do not attempt to fix it themselves. So why do they drive minibuses instead of using a commercial company – a cost saving measure at the expense of safety!

It would be a travesty if there were a similar incident to that of 20 years ago. Sadly however,  if schools continue to operate their own vehicles under permit, there is always a possibility there will be another accident.

David Wright, Director, Travel Wright Ltd, Newark.

To all the families who lost a son or daughter in the tragic accident twenty years ago on the M40, our thoughts and prayers go out to you all at this very sad time.

Mike & Jackie Woodhouse, M & J Minibus Hire, Bury St Edmunds.

Our thoughts go out to all families affected by this tragedy. An accident that never should have happened. Laws need to change to protect all children from this happening again. As operators we have to have breaks and are only allowed certain amount of hours to work per day. Our children are precious and costings should not come into it, only operators who have taken the appropriate tests etc should be used.

Ann Cresswell, Johns Tours, Stowmarket.

On that fateful evening back in 1993, so many people’s lives changed forever.  On this, the 20th Anniversary, our heartfelt sympathies go out to the families, friends and colleagues of the 12 beautiful children and their dedicated teacher who left this world far too soon.  Our thoughts are with you all. 

All the staff at Bennetts Coaches Ltd, Gloucester.

It's hard to believe twenty years has passed.  I am so sorry for your loss.

Denise, Cardiff.

Having read the statement from the Fitzgerald family, I can say what a moving plea from Claire’s parents, it really bought back those terrible images we all witnessed during the reporting of that fateful day. As a parent of three young children myself, I would have presumed that lessons would have been learned and acted upon by government as a result of that dreadful crash twenty years ago. Legislation is certainly needed to ensure that Schools and non-commercial permit 19 holders are upholding their responsibilities in this area and it is certainly a disgrace that anyone without a Certificate of Professional Competence should be allowed to ferry children around in a minibus. It would be easy enough to force Schools to ensure that those taking responsibility for driving children to and from school or on excursions are compliant, and it is in my opinion, lazy policy makers who have neglected to enforce these basic standards.

I think all parents in the know are very grateful for BUSK’s work in championing this cause. Please keep up the good work in ensuring that the lives lost twenty years ago are not forgotten and were not lost in vein. Good luck.

Charlie Richards, Director, Kaltz Publishing.

Our thoughts are with you on the 20th anniversary.

Sarah and David, York.

Together, lets stop this from ever happening again. Our thoughts and prayers are with all the families as the anniversary draws near.

Clive Edwards, Taf Valley Coaches, Wales.

Please pass our sincerest sympathies to the parents and families of the pupils involved in that terrible incident.

As an operator and a parent I too am amazed that even now school minibuses can be driven by non-qualified staff who's driving and work activities are not controlled by the same rules and regulations as those of qualified PSV drivers.  The law certainly needs updating in order to reduce the chances of repeat incidents.

Bill Holder, Partner, Coastal Coaches, Preston.

Lean on your friends for strength, and always remember how much you are cared about, from all at Woodstones Coaches Ltd

Richard Meredith, Woodstones Coaches Limited, Kidderminster.

My thoughts are with the families and friends of all affected by the tragedy x

Andrea Newton, parent, Pontypool, South Wales.

To all the families who have lost their loved ones my thoughts and prayers are with you. 

Colin Bailey, Coach driver, South Wales.

It is a disgrace that nothing is in place to stop teachers and other volunteer drivers driving up to 16 people in a bus without having to gain a driving license specific to this type of vehicle.  

Name supplied. Withheld by request.

Nothing will ever diminish the pain of the loss of a loved one and never will, that’s why our thoughts and prayers will remain with them always…………… What we can do however is support the hugely significant work that our industry and its colleagues undertake in trying to highlight the very reasons why such incidents happen….…….

Lip service is not enough, action and support of these campaigns is vital – Join us.

Graham Messenger, General Manager, Motts Travel, Aylesbury.

Our thoughts are with the children and their families. May they have the comfort that time brings. The children will never be forgotten.

Peter Brown, Parent and Grandparent, Lydiat, Lancs.

To show respect for the sadness that lives on from this tragic event, especially to the relatives and friends of those involved.

Gerard Rhodes, Ellesmere Port.

We would like to express that our thoughts are with all the families involved in this terrible accident whose 20th anniversary occurs 18th November.

Sam Hughes, Classic Coaches, Newry, Northern Ireland.

We should never forget those children who were taken away from their loved ones so soon – the pain of that dreadful evening will be etched in the mind for an eternity.  It is only right and proper that we all continue to learn and strive to deliver safety in all that we do – as a Operator who is fastidious about staff and passenger safety, the Hagley school children deserve all of us to deliver on our promises here. We should not forget these children and their poor families who have suffered so much over the years – we owe it to them to continually improve safety and standards in all that we do.   The non-regulated Permit 19 scheme is contrary to everything that is good about UK PSV regulation and commercial Operations – it’s time to remember those lives lost and time for us to now push forward with change!! Our thoughts are with you all

Andy Cotton, Managing Director, Stewarts Coaches Limited,Reading.

On the 20th anniversary of the M40 crash, the NUT remembers all those who tragically lost their lives. Our thoughts are with all the families who lost loved ones.

Sarah Lyons , Principal Officer , Employment Conditions and Rights, National Union of Teachers.

From all at Pewsey Vale Coaches we would like to offer comfort to the parents of the children involved 20 years ago.

This problem has not been resolved in fact has been exacerbated by the government not implementing CPC training or control over the movement of school children by unlicensed drivers/volunteers and institutions.

Pewsey Vale Coaches would like to support the end to Permit 19.

Andy Layfield, Pewsey Vale Coaches Ltd, Wiltshire.

It may be some comfort to the families, that the lessons learned from this tragedy have had the result of improving safety on minibuses for a generation.  The changes made to the ways of working are having an effect every day, with the aim that no one should have to face a similar loss.  As someone who transports children by minibus, the events of 20 November 1993 are never far from my mind.

John Edwards, Head Teacher, Queenscrosft School.

Our hearts go out to the grieving families and friends who were personally involved in such a tragic incident. To lose so many precious lives at such an early age leaves one questioning the strength and ability that people endure to continue life in the absence of loved ones.   

Scott Johnson, Engineering Director, Johnson Tours, Notts.

Your tragic loss is remembered by us all in the coach industry. We see far too often the results of untrained drivers on our roads.

Please draw strength to carry on the fight for trained drivers. We are all behind you and will continue to support your efforts along side our fight for training and abolition on the section 19 permit.

Strength may be drawn by the fact that some of our local schools have changed their policy of staff training and vehicle safety checks.

Jason Peake, Director, Peakes Coaches, South Wales.

We applaud the parents who are campaigning with BUSK with the aim of getting Permit 19 scrapped and moving towards a system that properly regulates voluntary operated minibuses in the UK.  It is hard to comprehend that after twenty years, lessons have not been learned resulting in children still being put at risk. Everyone at Anthony's Travel would wish to support you in your campaign.  We are thinking of you at this especially painful time.

Richard Bamber, Partner, Anthony's Travel, Runcorn.

As you continue to grieve, please know that we are praying for you and honouring the memory of your children and their teacher. Life does not make sense and losing someone so young is tragic. May God protect you all through you journey.

Karen Magill, Chief Executive, Federation of Passenger Transport Northern Ireland Ltd.

The memory of the morning following the minibus crash is a constant reminder to me in my daily life of the importance of protecting children who trust us to look after them. Precious memories of beloved children are the inheritance of a few, but their passing is a call to those who did not know them personally to honour them by our commitment to our work.

John Ridge, Director of Health & Safety, Ampleforth College, York.


Jill, Wiltshire.

I thoroughly support your campaign. As a member of CPT,  our company has supported CPT to get this ridiculous situation stopped for over 40 years to no avail.

It seems that the government just do not want to listen as their excuse is it would affect the charities etc.

Christine Bilham, Spratts Coaches, Norfolk.

Seaview Services would like to send our thoughts and love to all the Families that were effected by the M40 Crash especially on Monday.

Phil, Seaview Services, Isle of Wight.

We would simply say that genuine accidents will always happen, but every effort should be made to avoid them if possible.

It is shocking that the parents of the children who died so tragically 20 years ago have not been given the small comfort that lessons have been learned and acted upon.

Barbara Brown, Partner, Enterprise Travel, Darlington.

We recently heard of your nightmare 20 years ago and words will never be enough.  Our hearts sank and our minds couldn't comprehend it all.  We are so sorry for the loss of your cherished ones.   We send you much love and strength.  You are in our thoughts at this sad time and beyond.

McCue Family, Suffolk.

We strongly support your campaign for greater safety.  Safety to a transport company is key making sure everything is in place and to the highest standard. We agree that the loop holes in licensing is not strong enough and would like to support you and the family's with our support for the scrapping of permit 19. Our thoughts go out to the family's involved and hope in the future they will see the changers if we stand together.

Wishing you all the best.

Company Coaches, West Yorkshire.

Our thoughts go out to all the parents on this sad day.

E. Stott & Sons Ltd, Huddersfield.

We would like to offer our sincere best wishes to all the families who lost children in the horrific M40 Hagley School minibus crash.  Our thoughts are with you all during this very sad time.

Johnsons Coaches, Henly-in-Arden.