FORMER Southern Vectis bus driver, Brian Lancaster, has died aged 82 after a short illness.

Born in West Ham, within the sound of Bow Bells ­— a true Eastender ­— inevitably, Mr Lancaster was a lifelong supporter of his local Hammers football team.

He was the eldest of three children born to Les and Vi Lancaster.

Leaving school at 15, Mr Lancaster first worked as a butcher, but National Service three years later took him to Germany and the Balkans as a despatch rider.

Returning to civilian life, he became a lorry driver by day and worked as a pub bouncer in the evenings, which meant he knew of the notorious Kray twins.

Regarded as a 'man about town', and noted for his jovial manner and for wearing smart tailored suits, he married his wife, Janet Marson, at St John's Church, Leytonstone, in 1964.

The couple spent their honeymoon in Shanklin, and later moved to the Island with their two children, Julie and Mandy, in 1975.

Setting up home in Ryde, Mr Lancaster became a Southern Vectis bus driver at the nearby Park Road Depot, and worked for the bus operator for 27 years until his retirement in 2002.

In his later years, he became involved in the carnival, driving a vehicle towing the float, wearing fancy dress.

Mr Lancaster's varied interests included cake making and gardening ­— specialising in the growing of chrysanthemums and berry fruits ­— as well as darts, cribbage, crosswords and jigsaw puzzles.

He was widowed in 2013.

Despite illness, Mr Lancaster maintained his sense of humour until his death on August 22.

Mr Lancaster leaves his daughters, son-in-law, Robert, and grandchildren, Georgia and Rhiannon.

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