Tributes have been paid to bus driver Duncan Manns after he collapsed and died at the wheel of his car on the way to work.
His employer Faresaver has started a collection in memory of the popular 45-year-old, of Marshall Street, Chippenham.
An ambulance was called just after 7am on Thursday to a man spotted unconscious in his car in Loyalty Street. Para-medics tried to revive Mr Manns and took him to Royal United Hospital in Bath, but he could not be saved.
Mr Manns had three children with his partner of nearly 30 years, Donna Kennedy – Kierin, 23, Kyle, 20, and Ellie, 16.
The couple were together from the age of 17.
He left the house at 7am on Valentine’s Day but drove just a few yards around the corner before being taken ill. He had worked for Faresaver for two years.
Ms Kennedy, 45, a dinner lady at Redland Primary School, said: “He’d just left for work as usual. It only happened around the corner. I didn’t for a second think there was anything wrong.
“He’d not long passed a medical with flying colours. Everyone’s in shock.
“I had to tell the children. Anything bad we always told them together. But they’ve been brilliant, I couldn’t have got there without them.
“He was very much a family man, very kind and giving.
“Everything he did was just for us. He was a big softie when it came to the kids.”
She said he liked to talk about his job with his son Kierin, who also drives buses.
Faresaver general manager Daniel Pickford said: “We have been running a collection amongst the drivers for Duncan’s family and I know some of the drivers have extended the collection on to their buses.
“A lot of passengers will have good memories of Duncan and I think it’s a nice gesture that they want to pay tribute to him.
“Since his death, we’ve had a lot of passengers ring us offering their condolences. He was well-loved and likeable.
“This is very sad for his family as well as members of staff and passengers of Faresaver.”
One of Mr Manns’ passengers sent the family a sympathy card.
“He was a real people person, he loved the interaction at work. Driving was his main passion,” said Ms Kennedy.
He drove buses for five years, covering routes as far as Bristol and Frome. Prior to that he had his own business as a driving instructor and before that drove lorries for Iceland.
Born in Colerne, he went to Corsham School. He moved to Chippenham to be with Ms Kennedy at the age of 19.
Mr Manns was a keen reader, particularly science fiction, and he will be buried with his favourite book, Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.
“He kept wanting me to read it because he loved it, so I will start to read it now,” said Ms Kennedy.
Mr Manns leaves a brother Paul Manns, who lives in Chippenham, and a sister Sharon in Cheltenham. Funeral
details from FW Jones & Sons on (01249) 652525.