Community bus founder and former Bungay baker dies aged 80
- Credit: Nick Butcher
The founder member of a community transport group which covers Beccles, Bungay and beyond has died aged 80.
Geoff Banham - who is well-known in both Bungay and Diss for his contributions to the towns - travelled the length and breadth of the country for 20 years driving elderly and vulnerable people to appointments, social visits or just a weekly shop.
Mr Banham, who leaves behind his wife Betty and son James, was born in Eye and spent the first part of his life working in Diss.
He joined Diss Cycling Club as a teenager and was one of the cyclists who helped to launch the popular round-the-town races in the 1970s. He also helped with the British Schools Cycling Association.
Mr Banham originally wanted to be a farrier, but went into the bakery business, working in Redgrave and Diss before the couple moved to Bungay where he opened his own bakery in Upper Olland Street.
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“He loved baking,” said Mrs Banham, 80. “He would do 100 hours a week and I used to go in and help fry the doughnuts.
“His cakes were very popular. On a Saturday morning they would be queuing down the road.”
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Mr Banham took early retirement and joined a Lowestoft community transport organisation. In 1993 he launched a breakaway group to cover Beccles and Bungay, which he ran from his home. The success of his venture led to the formation of Bungay Area Community Transport in 1997, and by 2004 with demand growing, it became the Beccles and Bungay Area Community Tranport group.
He continued as a volunteer driver until 2013.
Mrs Banham said: “He put his heart and soul into it. He did it 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“He loved doing it and loved meeting people.”
Mr Banham died on May 29 - a month and a day short of their diamond anniversary.
The couple had planned a meal with friends and family, and Mrs Banham said it will now be used as a celebration of his life. His funeral will take place on June 20 at 11.30am at Hempnall Church.