‘Footy mad’ Arriva bus driver given tear-jerking send-off

This was the tear-jerking moment a bus depot where a longstanding and hugely popular driver worked came to a standstill following his death with coronavirus.

Friends, colleagues and family assembled at Laird Street in Birkenhead last week for a poignant commemoration of Harry McIvor.

The 70-year-old worked for Arriva for 30 years, known to close pals as "the football-mad Jock", who died at the end of April with Covid-19.

Last Thursday, a short memorial was organised for the dad-of-three as five buses were parked in an H-shape, his first name initial, at the Wirral yard.

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Colleagues were all wearing Celtic shirts, who Harry ardently supported, and they socially-distanced while a bagpipe played Amazing Grace across the depot.

That was followed by a short speech by Unite union rep Christopher Jones, a minute's silence and a clap for the much-loved driver.

Work colleagues, friends and famioly gather at Laird Street depot in Birkenhead to remember bus driver Harry McIvor

You'll Never Walk Alone was also played, due to its shared links with Celtic, whose fans also sing the Liverpool FC anthem.

Harry's family, including his 38-year-old daughter Sharon, attended the heartfelt occasion.

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He was married to 71-year-old Sandy, and had two more children, Andy and Stewart.

Drivers who have since retired, and members of the public who sat on his bus every day, also turned up.

A collection in his memory has raised £4,000, with money coming from other nearby depots, and even regular passengers who boarded the 70-year-old's services through Wirral.

The cash will be presented to NHS staff at Arrowe Park Hospital where Harry died.

Work colleagues, friends and famioly gather at Laird Street depot in Birkenhead to remember bus driver Harry McIvor

Today, union boss Mr Jones, himself a bus driver, told the ECHO: "We worked with Harry for 30 years, starting in 1989.

"Everyone at the garage at Laird Street is close, he was known as the football mad Jock.

"Harry always had a laugh with you and a joke, you never saw him angry, he'd have a chat with you.

"He liked to work the early shifts, and loved the job.

"He wouldn't go three days without working, he was a really nice bloke."

Harry bravely fought coronavirus in hospital for three weeks after first being taken to Arrowe Park Hospital at the start of April.

Harry McIvor, 70, who passed away at Arrowe Park hospital from coronavirus, pictured with his wife Sandy McIvor, 71.

He was a healthy and active man, his family said, who went for regular walks around Birkenhead Park, but he fell ill when his body began to ache and his breathing grew laboured.

The Glaswegian was immediately placed in the high dependency unit before being transferred to intensive care.

If you have been affected by any of the details mentioned in this story there are people who can help you.

Most people grieve when they lose something or someone important to them.

The way grief affects you depends on lots of things, including what kind of loss you have suffered, your upbringing, your beliefs or religion, your age, your relationships, and your physical and mental health.

Grieving is a totally normal process but there are way to get help if you need support.

Your GP is a good place to start. They can give you advice about other support services, refer you to a counsellor, or prescribe medication if needed.

Or you can contact support organisations directly, such as Cruse Bereavement Care (0808 808 1677) Samaritans (116 123) or Love Jasmine.

The granddad-of-seven went into an induced coma and was put on a ventilator from which he never recovered.

Mr Jones added: "It was obviously horrible when Harry died, but the way everyone has come together has boosted the staff.

Harry McIvor, 70, who passed away from coronavirus, pictured with his wife Sandy McIvor (left) , 71, and daughter Sharon McIvor (right), 38

"We've been trying to keep the morale up as it's been hard, with Harry passing, but also the coronavirus situation, too."

Last Thursday's commemoration was also held for Reg Halstead, a 61-year-old bus driver who worked in Southport, who also died after contracting Covid-19.

The dad-of-one and union rep, described as “one of the good guys," succumbed to the virus in April after spending eight days in hospital.