Heartbroken wife of popular Peter Melville-Smith leads tributes to the generous Harrogate man

The family of the hugely popular Peter Melville-Smith say they have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of tributes following his untimely death aged 62.

Wednesday, 18th January 2017, 3:48 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th January 2017, 3:51 pm
Peter and his wife Pauline (s)

Thousands of tributes have poured in for Peter, a man who dedicated his life to his loving family and his passion for buses.

Friends and colleagues have been quick to praise Peter for his generosity as a friend and his skill as an employee but it was his wife Pauline who led the tributes.

"What you saw was what you got with Peter. He was such an incredible and lovely guy," Pauline remarked.

Peter Melville-Smith

The couple's love story began in 1973 when a 19-year-old Peter first met his beloved Pauline whilst on the Ling Lane bus out of Leeds.

Peter was a conductor on the bus whilst Pauline was working as a nanny to a family in Leeds when they met in July.

Just four months later and the devoted couple were engaged and by Christmas they had put a deposit down for their first house in Bilton.

Their whirlwind romance culminated in a heartwarming wedding ceremony in Pauline's hometown of Peterlee at Hartlepool Methodist Church on September 21, 1974.

Peter with his wife Pauline (left) and daughter Sue (right) (s)

"Peter was working as a conductor at the time when I was doing a three-month nanny job. I thought he looked like Leo Sayer because he was quite thin at the time and had very curly hair," Pauline said.

"We got married in 1974 and settled down in Harrogate. We bought a little terrace house in Bilton Grove but Peter still had his love for buses.

"He loved his quizzes and always went to Bilton Working Men's Club on Wednesday. He loved a pint with his friends but his love for music was just like his love for work.

"Peter knew every song on the radio straight off and he was the same with his buses. If anyone asked him what they were working on next week then he would know it straight off."

Peter Melville-Smith

His complete dedication and enthusiasm for his job made him a popular employee at Transdev with many of his colleagues hailing his intellect, talent and skill.

However, Pauline said that the couple did enjoy their time away from work,spending time with the family; including their son Andrew and daughter Susan.

Tragically Andrew died in 2000 but Pauline said that her, Susan and Peter all enjoyed a number of day trips as well as summer holidays in Malta.

"Our trips there were real busman's holidays. He loved riding round and going to different places across the country," Pauline explained.

Peter with his wife Pauline (left) and daughter Sue (right) (s)

"When we first went over we had to hold on for deal life, especially if you went into a hole or a ditch you would bounce up to the roof.

"In the end they decided to scrap the old buses so on our last trip there, three or four years ago, they paraded them all and there were a lot of bus-spotters there. We had the best day of our lives then."

As well as summer trips to Malta, the family also enjoyed day trips out to Redcar, eating fish and chips followed by ice-cream with their beloved dog Ruby.

It was Peter's relationship with his children where Pauline said his generosity and kindness were most evident, particularly on their school excursions.

She said: "He was a fantastic dad who loved his kids. When they used to be at school, if they were going out on an excursion they used to ask if dad could drive the bus.

"I used to tell them he was busy but when the bus came up they would go ballistic because Andrew's dad was driving. They all got to sit in the driver's seat and pip the horn, they loved it."

His daughter Susan, who eventually joined him on the quiz team, also highlighter her father's influence in not just their family life, but to the entire Harrogate community.

"Dad was a funny, loyal, loving, cleaver, hardworking, larger than life man," Susan said.

"We enjoyed spending quality time together and shared many interests including our love of music, comedy, quizzes and football. Work permitting we often enjoyed watching Harrogate town and a cheeky pint or two.

"We knew Dad was liked and loved but we are overwhelmed by by the support and love for him. Like for us he will be sorely missed by so many."

Sadly, just two days before the family were planning to enjoy a homely Christmas day, tragedy struck.

Peter, who had suffered with asthma all his life, had stepped out for some fresh air after another attack but just as Pauline was ringing for an ambulance, he collapsed to the floor.

Pauline described the traumatic events of that day as heartbreaking but said she's found comfort in the outpouring of tributes that have been left to him.

From flowers and cards, thousands of messages of love and support on Facebook and a touching tribute from Transdev has left Harrogate in no doubt what Peter meant to so many.

"We are so overwhelmed, it's very hard to take in," Pauline said.

"Of course we knew he was a well liked and well loved person but what we have heard over the last few weeks has been unbelievable and very comforting.

"We can't say how grateful we are in words. I can't believe how nice people have been but we are still coming to terms with everything."

Known as 'Smudge' to many of his friends and colleagues, Peter has been described as a "genius" in his job and said he would be sorely missed by many including best friend Gary Steel.

Sean David,who knew Peter for several years, paid an initial tribute online which went viral and described him as a genuine, decent and funny man.

He said: "It was the respect I saw and heard for Peter from his colleagues after his passing that encouraged me to pay tribute on Facebook.

"The amount of heartfelt replies the post received astounded me and I hope that Peters family can find some comfort in the knowledge of just how highly regarded Peter was as a friend, a colleague and as a person.

"Peter was a true gent and will be sadly missed."

Bill and Tania Boreham said: "'Peter would do anything to help out. A great mentor with a sense of humour.

"Nothing was too much trouble. A true gentleman to have known him and he will be sadly missed by all."

Kevin Crossley worked with Peter for 14 years and described him as a "great man who didn't let anything get him down".

Carole and Martin Counter said: "Smudge was a great man, a friend for many years. He is and will be sorely missed.

"We are deeply saddened but we will always have our memories of our Smudge. Our thoughts and love are always with Pauline, Sue and Ruby."

Despite working at a different bus company, Craig Temple of Connexion Buses said that he and Peter remained close friends throughout.

He said: "He was a one of a kind, and will be very sadly missed by myself and all of our staff. Our thoughts go out to Pauline and Sue."