A charismatic entrepreneur who died following a sudden illness was honoured with a cavalcade of buses as he was laid to rest last week. The convoy was in honour of D&G Bus founder, David Backhouse Reeves, who passed away on Monday, May 11. He was just 61.
Although only 11 people were able to attend his funeral due to Covid-19 restrictions, scores of people lined the streets as the funeral cortege passed through Uttoxeter on Wednesday, May 27. Buses painted in the original blue and cream D&G livery in memory of Dave – and co-founder the late Gerald Henderson – were joined by buses from firms across the industry, which were decked out with black flags and paused to sound their horns on arrival at Stafford Crematorium.
Dave grew up in the farming community, going to school at Marchington Woodlands where he earned a stellar reputation on the football pitch before moving to Ludlow with his family as a teenager. He returned to the Uttoxeter area after leaving college, taking a job at Lymer’s bus company in Tean, which was owned by his aunt and uncle, Florence and Aubrey. A spell working at Stevenson’s buses followed and Dave also played for local football teams, including Rocester FC.
During his first marriage to Joanne, Dave became a father to Alice, took a job with the ambulance service and completed a Masters degree in business. When their marriage ended, Dave decided to combine his experience working in the bus industry with his business knowledge and in 1998, joined forces with Gerald Henderson to form D&G Bus Company. Dave tackled the business side of the operation alongside his regular job until joining D&G full time in 2002.
In that same year, Dave married Clare-Anne just 12 months after they first met via a dating website which they had both subscribed to while juggling demanding careers. The couple settled in Kingstone where they brought up their two sons Taylor, 17, and James, 15. Clare-Anne said: “Dave and Gerald started out with three buses. In the early days it was a struggle, but when I met him they had expanded to eight buses and it was quite a lot to deal with. Dave was incredibly charismatic and a great negotiator, so he dealt with things like tenders and contracts while Gerald managed the day-to-day operation of the buses.
“We had a lot going on with getting married and having children all around the same time as Dave was building up the business. Dave was a fantastic father – at the weekends he loved playing with the kids. Joanne and her partner Tim were also supportive whenever Alice came to stay with us and later, when Dave became ill. Dave and I always supported each other. The teamwork was there from day one and it was vital in overcoming whatever life threw at us.”
Dave was devastated when Gerald – the G of D&G – passed away in 2006. He took some time out, including a trip to Australia before, with the support of Julian Peddle, eventually returning to the company and expanding even further.
A keen football supporter, Dave launched Uttoxeter Walking Football Club at the town’s leisure centre, being an active member and player until an injured knee and cracked rib prevented his returning to the sport.
A diagnosis of throat cancer in 2016 prompted Dave to retire from D&G, although he retained a role as non-executive director until he passed away. Clare-Anne, said: “Dave was a confident and up-front person. Once he made a decision he would stick to it. He was great with people – you always knew if he was in a room – and in his younger years he was very vocal on the football pitch. His work with the Rotary Club and the charities he supported were also very important to him.
“The diagnosis prompted us to undergo a major lifestyle change. We both basically retired and moved to Grindley. Dave found a new interest in keeping hens, ducks, geese and goats. He started making pens for the animals, which surprised me as he’d never shown any interest in DIY before, but he’d look it up on the internet, find the right materials and make everything from scratch. He took up golf and became really good at it. We travelled as well, including trips to Barbados and Portugal.
“We did a lot in the last four years. He took so much pleasure from looking after his animals and being out in the garden. He beat the cancer and he was fitter than he’d ever been.”
Dave was also a supporter of a number of charities and joined the town’s Rotary Club, serving as its President for 2019/20 and hosting a fund-raising night for a project providing clean water and sanitation for communities in Africa.
A respected figure in the bus industry and a popular man in the Uttoxeter area, Dave is mourned by his wife Clare-Anne and children Alice, Taylor and James; his mother, Iris Reeves and sister Carole Nixon, brother-in-law Paul and their children Lisa, Josh, his partner Paula, and Joseph.
Clare Anne added: “Because we have interests in other bus companies who had tremendous respect for Dave, they drove in procession to his funeral to pay their respects, which was very moving. It was also really emotional to see so many people standing and clapping along the route.”
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