Tributes paid to former Leighton Buzzard town crier and founder member of Buzzer Buses Ltd

Remembering Roy Gibbons who "made a real difference" to our town

Monday, 12th April 2021, 4:08 pm
Updated Monday, 12th April 2021, 10:30 pm

Leighton Buzzard residents are paying tribute to a former town crier and co-founder of the Buzzer Buses Ltd who "made a real difference" to the town.

Roy Gibbons, 92, died peacefully at 7.30pm on the evening of April 1 surrounded by his children and some of his grandchildren.

He served for a number of years as the town crier, and had been made an Honorary Burgess of Leighton Buzzard and Linslade around 2008, being one of the first people to receive this honour.

Roy and Beryl on their wedding day.

His son, David, told the LBO: "Dad was one of the founders of the Buzzer Bus service and oversaw the office team. He was chairman of the organisation for many years. He got involved because his wife Beryl had severe arthritis and they were part of several support groups. When the idea of a bus service for disabled people was mooted, Dad stepped up to the plate to make it happen. It was for his involvement in this and the disabled access group that he was awarded the Honorary Burgess award at the first such ceremony in July 2007.

"He touched so many in the town in the 35 years he lived here. He was well-known and liked in the road he lived on, interacting with and helping his neighbours. He did a lot for the disabled community both with mum and after she died.

"He was active in the Link club and the U3A, especially the Jazz Appreciation group, and a regular at St Leonards church. Whilst he never stood for political office, he always 'did his duty' and was the sort of citizen who makes a real difference."

Born in Harrow, Roy worked at Kodak his whole working life, moving to Hemel Hempstead in 1957 with the colour film processing unit. He retired after more than 40 years with them when the unit finally shut down.

Roy and his family.

It was early in his time at Kodak that he began to play Father Christmas, a role that took on a life of its own for some 40 years. He would often disappear for a few hours around Christmas to become his alter-ego for friends, neighbours, and organisations.

He married Beryl Smaggasgale in 1954 and they had seven children, all of whom survive him. Beryl died in 1998.

David said: "They moved to Leighton Buzzard in 1986. Beryl suffered severe arthritis and they got involved in the disabled support groups in town. This included protesting at the railway station when it re-opened (around 1990) after being renovated because of the lack of access for wheelchairs. Through involvement in these groups, Roy became one of the founders of the Buzzer Buses in 1991, which he oversaw for many years."

Roy also spent many happy days a member and then president of the Wing Bowls Club. On retiring as president, he donated 'the bread pudding trophy', which is played for among various local clubs. The name comes from the fact that he was well-known among the clubs for always bringing a large bread pudding to competitions.

Roy as town crier (left) and on his 90th birthday.

David remembered: "My Dad was a bit of a rascal. He had a great, if sometimes corny, sense of humour. He liked to dress well and was known for wearing colourful waistcoats and bow ties. He was caring and considerate of family, friends, and neighbours and always willing to take on the hard and thankless jobs that needed doing.

"After he retired (when Kodak shut the colour processing plant in Hemel Hempstead) he and Beryl began to travel the world, starting with a camera safari in Kenya. He never stopped, even after she died, and went on his last trip just three years ago, touring South Africa. When he was about 85 he was soaring through the Costa Rican rainforest canopy on a zip-wire, and for his 91st birthday he went indoor sky-diving!"

He added: "Roy was, for 35 years, a stalwart of the 8am service at St Leonard's CofE church in Heath and Reach. His funeral will be a family-only affair there because of the current restrictions, however, we will be looking to hold a larger remembrance service for him later this summer once the restrictions end."

Roy is also survived by his younger sister.