Tributes to a travel pioneer

MALCOLM Safford, managing director of Little Gransden-based Safford s Coaches, has died aged 66. Mr Safford inherited the company – one of the first to tour Europe – from his father, Charles, and grandmother, Louisa, and worked for it for more than 40 yea

MALCOLM Safford, managing director of Little Gransden-based Safford's Coaches, has died aged 66.

Mr Safford inherited the company - one of the first to tour Europe - from his father, Charles, and grandmother, Louisa, and worked for it for more than 40 years with his sister Shirley.

Once an award-winning rower and a member of St Neots Rowing Club, he died on Friday, February 8, at Addenbrooke's Hospital, in Cambridge.

Mr Safford had suffered heart failure and a stroke and had the long-term condition colitis. He had been in Addenbrooke's for about eight weeks and became victim to the superbugs MRSA and Cidifficile.


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His funeral will be held next week.

Born into a family that can trace its connections to the Gransdens for more than 500 years, Mr Safford was born in Little Gransden and went to Kimbolton School.

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He was a keen cyclist, cross-country runner, athlete and rower.

His team won the Schoolboy Rowing Challenge on the Serpentine at London's Hyde Park in 1958. During the 1960s, he became a life member of St Neots Rowing Club, winning regattas nationwide. In 1960, the Safford Challenge Cup for oarsmanship was presented to the club as a tribute from his father.

Trained in automotive engineering at Cambridge Technical College, Mr Safford began in the garage repairing vehicles.

He updated his coach fleet and became chairman of both the Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire Coach Operators Associations. Many ­generations of schoolchildren, day-trippers and holiday-makers in Cambridgeshire would have recognised him both as head of the coach company and as a driver.

Before de-regulation in 1985, Safford's was one of the few companies with a licence to have a tour programme in Britain and Europe, alongside Shearings and Wallace Arnold.

His son Craig said: "He was a true gentleman. He would work until midnight so as not to let his clients down - the spanners would fly around the workshop and sometimes the air would be blue.

"His later life was marred by numerous illnesses, which many people attributed to his work ethic.

"Despite this, he was never selfish and always kind. He always managed to find a little time for everyone and wore a warm smile through all life's adversities.

"He felt that he had lived a full life and enjoyed himself. In his final months, he loved to sit and enjoy his garden, surrounded by his family and reading his books."

His schoolfriend, St Neots solicitor Simon Adlam, one of the winning schoolboy rowing team of 1958, said: "Malcolm was a thoroughly dependable person, a very quiet man and a good, solid friend."

Mr Safford sold his stake in the business in 2005. The helm has been taken up by his niece, Tracey Gillett.

He was divorced from his wife, Ann, and leaves two sons Craig and Paul and four grandchildren, Alfie, Poppy, Thomas and Jake.

His funeral will be at the Church of St Peter and St Paul, in Little Gransden, at 11am on Tuesday.

The family have requested donations to the National Association for Colitis and Crohn's (NACC) or to the British Heart Foundation. Flowers if wished.

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