Seven Hemel Hempstead heroes have been immortalised on the side of a brand new fleet of buses serving the town.
The families of brave murder victims Billy Dove and Frank Mason were among those invited to an unveiling of the new Arriva vehicles on Sunday, following a competition to name the buses.
Hundreds of votes were cast in the poll, which saw a longlist of 10 narrowed down to the winning entries, including ‘Billy’ and ‘Frank’.
Billy’s dad Paul Dove said: “We are really honoured to have a bus named after our beloved Billy. This shows the strength of feeling in the town, and the love that is still here for him more than two years after his death.
“While nothing will ever bring back my son, we are doing all we can to make sure the people of Hemel never forget him. Billy’s legacy will live on. Thank you so much to all the people who voted.”
Also featuring in the bus fleet is ‘Arky’ after Apsley 1st Scouts leader Simon Fancourt, and ‘Jack’ after teen Down’s Syndrome and chronic epilepsy sufferer Jack Gatehouse who carried the Olympic Torch through Hemel Hempstead in 2012.
Simon, who was also present at the town’s bus depot to witness the newly-named buses’ unveiling, said: “I was bowled over to hear that I had even been nominated – to think that someone thought to put my name forward is lovely. We have a strong team of leaders at 1st Apsley and with their help we have grown our Scout Group to almost 300 members over the last 20 years.
“Thanks to everyone who voted, I was speechless when I received the message that a bus will be driving around Hemel with my name on.”
The first name of former Gazette editor Tom Price was also one of the successful entries, along with that of Apsley papermaker John Dickinson. Brocks, after the firework building which used to be located at Woodhall Farm estate, was chosen as the seventh bus name.
Arriva named an eighth bus after Dave Gill, a dedicated Green Line driver and member of Arriva’s Hemel Hempstead team for more than 20 years, who died in November.
The company’s regional marketing and communications manager Linsey Frostick said: “The response to our appeal was truly amazing and we received some incredible feedback from a number of people who have campaigned tirelessly in hope of seeing their friend, family member or local hero immortalised on one of our buses.
“We have been very touched by the support we have received and are honoured to have been able to give something back to the residents of Hemel Hempstead.”
The new buses are part of a £1.2 million investment by Arriva and will serve Hemel Hempstead’s popular number 2 route.