Thursday, 30 April 2020

The Journey Down to Cornwall for a St. Austell Funeral

David Hall decided to increase the awareness of his service in 2011 by placing Business Cards in 20 Transport Cafes around Britain, including Woody’s Diner situated in the Stourton Cross Picnic Area just off the A30. David was recommended to contact Mrs Fay Long by Alan Kelso, now part of the management team at William Armstrong Longtown Ltd looking after the Livestock Fleet. 

David has known Alan for over 50 years as Alan’s Grandfather was Albert Kelso who owned Fellside Transport in Lazonby where David spent his holidays riding in the grey Leyland Beavers with red wings and Alan washed out the containers on a Saturday morning, in the yards in front of the garage or down the alley close to the fields. It was David’s exposure to Albert Kelso and his Leyland Beavers that led David to pursue a career in transport, to buy a 1950 Leyland Beaver when the opportunity arose and finally to start Vintage Lorry Funerals in 2002.
Back in the late 1980s Alan Kelso was on the road driving a 385 horse power F12 Volvo for T. Bell & Sons, Rosehill Estate, Carlisle, pulling a Double Deck Livestock Trailer. Alan would often take a load of 470 to 500 lambs, breeds ranging from Cheviots to Texels, to the abattoir of H.R. Jasper & Son at Launceston, wash out and then park up at Woody’s Diner overnight. In the morning Fay or her staff would cook his breakfast before Alan departed to collect Store Cattle from Taunton, Bridgewater, Highbridge or Chippenham loading up to 38 cattle for delivery to Cumbria or South West Scotland. Alan would take the load to Carlisle and if the trailer contained Cows destined for Saltcoats Abattoir, Alan would then hand over the rig to a second Driver, who was often his Dad, John Kelso. 

One day when Alan got to Woody’s Diner, at around 1500 hours, he found that there was a puncture on a trailer tyre and back in the day a Lorry Driver would change his own wheels. Unfortunately as Alan was standing on the extended wheel-brace, the wheel-brace slipped and Alan fell to the ground using his hand to break his fall. This resulted in a bad wound to his hand which was ingrained with road dirt. Fay Long was an angel, she picked out the grit, cleaned up the wound and bandaged it so Alan could get home. Alan will never forget the kindness Fay showed him over the years and he had no hesitation in recommending that David should contact Fay.
Woody’s Diner proved to be the best Transport CafĂ© at marketing Vintage Lorry Funerals as standard packs of 40 cards didn’t last long and after three replenishments of the Marketing Stand David sent up a bulk consignment of cards. It was understood that the throughput of cards was due in part to Fay’s personal invitation for customers to take a card from the box. Within 3 months David received his first opportunity from a card picked up from Woody’s Diner. A Builder from Bath was visiting his family in Cornwall and stopped at Woody’s Diner on the way home. Sadly within a short time the Builder passed away in his Brothers arms, caused by a heart problem which no one knew about. His Mother found the Vintage Lorry Funerals Card in his jacket pocket and his Sister contacted David to book the 1950 Leyland Beaver for April 20th 2011. 

David phoned Fay Long after the Bath funeral and offered to send her some flowers or chocolates, however, Fay didn’t want any thanks, and she was just pleased that the Builder’s demise was not due to her cooking!
On March 27th 2019 David was on his way to St Austell for a funeral and he called into Woody’s Diner to meet Fay Long and shake her hand. Fay followed David out to the lorry park to see the Leyland Beaver and she said that it looked as good as she had imagined from the picture on the Business Card. Fay declined the opportunity of a photograph in front of the lorry saying, ‘Maybe 20 years ago, but not now.’ 

David proceeded to St. Austell and found the Kwikfit location, where the Leyland Beaver would be parked undercover overnight, which was just around the corner from the Funeral Directors. David was talking to Stewart Yeo, Supervisor, about how he had popped in to see Fay at Woody’s Diner when Kevin Taylor, Manager, came across to speak to David. Kevin said, ‘It’s good to meet you, however, I have seen your lorry before. When you pay the bill in Woody’s Diner you are given the receipt and one of your Business Cards, and I have still got the card in my glove compartment.’

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