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Driver Paul Taylor hailed hero as tree crashes down in front of bus in Tudeley Road, Tonbridge

A quick-thinking driver has been hailed as a hero by passengers after managing to avoid a tree which crashed down, just inches in front of his double decker bus.

The Autocar 205 service from Tonbridge to Paddock Wood was disrupted by the fall on Tudeley Road, Tonbridge, but Paul Taylor slammed the brakes on just seconds away from disaster, in time to prevent any damage.

What could have been a serious accident was dramatically avoided but company bosses then went beyond the call of duty by transporting some 20 travellers, many of them elderly and disabled people, back to their homes.

A "hero" bus driver slammed the brakes on just in time as a tree fell on Tudeley Road between Tonbridge and Paddock Wood
A "hero" bus driver slammed the brakes on just in time as a tree fell on Tudeley Road between Tonbridge and Paddock Wood

General manager at the bus company, Kjell Oyvind, and transport manager Richard Cutler co-ordinated the operation last Wednesday, which included re-routing traffic around the area and ensuring school children using its later services were able to get home.

Passenger Steve Finch described Mr Taylor’s efforts as “heroic” and praised the company for leaping into action to avoid gridlock.

He said: “The driver halted the vehicle with inches to spare. They worked so hard and did things above and beyond what you would expect from a bus company.”

Bus driver Paul Taylor
Bus driver Paul Taylor

Ten of the firm’s drivers helped out by working extra hours. But Mr Oyvind, 43, of Station Road, Paddock Wood, who is known to passengers and colleagues as ‘BA’, insisted they were simply doing their job.

“It was one of those events where you couldn’t think about it, you just had to get on with it,” he said.

“I care about our passengers and wanted to do the right thing because they’re regulars. A lot of them are elderly and you can’t leave them stranded.”

The firm, based in Whetsted Road in Five Oak Green, runs 20 bus routes in west Kent, including services for pupils of Mascalls School, Weald of Kent School, Hillview School and Cornwallis Academy.

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