'It was amazing': Birthday surprise vintage bus tour for woman with Down's syndrome


Victoria Wake was surprised with a special bus tour for her 30th birthday - Credit: Sally Patterson

A Hornchurch woman has been surprised with an open-top bus tour of her home town as a special Covid-19 compliant birthday celebration. 

Victoria Wake, who has Down’s syndrome, was left speechless as she watched the personalised vintage bus roll down the road towards her. 

For Victoria's 30th birthday last month, mum Sue had secretly organised the surprise with Ensignbus driver Paul Almeroth.  

Victoria waving

Victoria waving at people on the streets - Credit: Sally Patterson

Victoria told this paper: “When the bus turned up, it was amazing because I didn’t know my mum had planned it, but she pulled it off and I was beside myself.” 

Victoria Wake

Victoria Wake celebrated her 30th birthday in style - Credit: Sally Patterson

Paul and Sue had spent hours the day before decorating the bus with bright signs and balloons. 

Paul said: “We all got together to give Victoria a fantastic day. 

“The sun shining, everyone smiling and a good-looking bus driver as well.” 

Charlotte and Victoria

Friend Charlotte Couchlan celebrated the day with Victoria - Credit: Sally Patterson

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Sat aboard the top deck in the glorious sunshine, Victoria’s father Dave was delighted they had pulled off the surprise. 

He said: “I think it was an absolute shock for Victoria when she saw the bus coming along, and we’ve got to thank Ensignbus and Paul for putting this on, because it’s absolutely fantastic.” 

Sue agreed: “She’s always liked a treat rather than a present. 

“A memory is much better to Victoria than any present you could possibly give her. 

“She hangs onto the memories for years.” 


Victoria aboard the vintage bus - Credit: Sally Patterson

Dave added: “She’ll remember this with everyone being on the bus and being the centre of attention, she loves it. 

“She’s just incredibly social.” 

Dave and Sue Wake

Victoria's parents Sue Wake (l) and Dave Wake (r) planned the special surprise for their daughter - Credit: Sally Patterson

Victoria couldn’t stop smiling as she rode around Hornchurch, Purfleet and Grays, giggling and joking with friends Charlotte Couchlan and Gemma May. 

Charlotte Couchlan and Gemma May

Best friends Charlotte Couchlan (l) and Gemma May (r) joined Victoria on the top deck - Credit: Sally Patterson

At the Ensignbus station in Purfleet, chairman Peter Newman presented Victoria with a special cake and presents. 

He explained: “We try and do a lot of good for the community. 

“We know Victoria loves buses, and we even organised the weather for her as well.” 

Ensignbus cake

Ensignbus presented Victoria with a personalised cake - Credit: Sally Patterson

The next stop was Jackson’s in Romford, a training café for people with learning difficulties, where Victoria has worked for around five years. 

As the bus drew up outside, Victoria’s friends abandoned their duties and ran outside to greet the birthday parade. 


Victoria's friends at Jackson's café also got a ride on the bus - Credit: Sally Patterson

The staff were then given their very own mini-tour around the block, whooping and cheering as they waved at delighted passers-by.  

30th birthday

Victoria was celebrating her 30th birthday - Credit: Sally Patterson

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