A Kettering man has been named as one of two victims of yesterday’s horror crash involving a bus and a lorry.
Brian Chapman, 76, died at the scene after the bus he was a passenger in collided with the HGV on the A47 in Thorney Toll, Cambridgeshire, at 7.30am.
Mr Chapman lived in Cherry Road and was a stalwart of SS Peter and Paul’s Church in Market Place, where he had been verger for more than 40 years.
Revd David Walsh, rector at the church, said: “He was the person who knew where everything was and how to do things.
“He was solid gold, reliable, caring and compassionate.
“You just knew that he was going to be there when you went in.”
Brian used to go to King’s Lynn, or ‘Lynn’ as he called it, twice a month on the bus and always on Tuesdays.
Rev Walsh said he was a man of habit and had just come back from his holiday to the Isle of Man.
He added: “It’s hard to imagine St Peter and St Paul’s Church without him.”
Retired priest Tim Short added his condolences on Twitter last night (Tuesday).
He said: “So shocked to hear our verger at SS Peter and Paul’s Kettering was the passenger who died in the bus crash in Cambridgeshire this morning.
“May he rest in peace and rise in glory.”
Brian’s neighbours Denise, 54, and Perry Mayhew, 59, said: “It’s especially sad because he’d just come back from holiday just the day before and he’s died in his own country. It’s really, really sad.
“We couldn’t have had a better neighbour really. He’s really well known in the community. I’m a mobile hairdresser and everyone whose hair I do knows Brian.
“He used to give our grandchildren presents. He was a lovely, brilliant neighbour. It’s sad really because when you get good neighbours you put everything on to them don’t you?
“He was one of those who loved to chat - you’d pull into your road and he’d love to chat.
“He would come out and say ‘my blood pressure’s up because I’ve been reading about the politicians!’ you know so he wasn’t one of those who was chatty but talked nonsense.
“We knew it could be Brian (who died). He sits at the front and likes to talk to the bus driver.
“He was an early bird. He’d probably be back from Wisbech at two o’clock in the afternoon.
“It’s a regular thing that Brian does so he might have known the bus driver. He likes to go down to the market there to buy seaweed for cooking.
“The church know him better than anybody. He spends a lot of time up there.”
Ian Greenwood, 67, deputy verger to Brian at the church, added: “It came as a complete shock to us all. I’m absolutely devastated and he’ll be sorely missed.
“People in the church are absolutely devastated.
“We normally have a Wednesday afternoon service with seven or eight people. Today there were 35 people to remember him and pay tribute to him.”
Bus driver Michael Elcombe, 45, of Cley Road in Swaffham, Norfolk, also died as a result of the crash.
A further 17 people were injured with six suffering serious injuries and the remaining suffering minor injuries.
The majority of the people injured were from Peterborough, with one from Hunstanton in Norfolk.
The circumstances of the collision are still being investigated, but no arrests have been made.
Yesterday it was reported that one of the victims was from Northampton based on information from the police, but this is not the case.