Obituary: Gloria Botfield, women in coaching groundbreaker

Gloria Botfield, Bassetts of Tittensor
Photo: JACKIE DUNN

Gloria Botfield, who for many years helped to pave the way for more women to enter the coach industry, has died. She was 78.

Known for the over 30 years that she spent as a driver with Bassetts of Tittensor, Gloria began her employment with the North Staffordshire operator – which at the time ran both coaches and HGVs – in 1970 collecting parts. Her potential to handle large vehicles was soon seen by Director Ashley Bassett. Gloria obtained her PCV driving license in 1971 and followed that with success in the HGV test.

Gloria quickly became recognised for her skill behind the wheel, which was often rewarded with silverware at the UK Coach Rally and other industry gatherings. In the 1970s, part of the Coach Rally driving competition required entrants to change a wheel, which she “had no trouble doing,” says former colleague at Bassetts and now Managing Director of Stantons of Stoke Keith Stanton.

Rising to the position of one of Bassetts’ most senior coach drivers and its foremost on UK tours, Gloria’s keen interest in the cleanliness and presentation of her coach was well known.

Gloria Botfield, Bassetts of Tittensor
Gloria Botfield was for many years well known as a keen competitor at the UK Coach Rally and oher industry events. Photo: JEREMY HULME

Her attention to passengers was also exemplary. “Gloria was not just a good driver; she was also a people person, very customer-focussed and dedicated to ensuring that they enjoyed their holiday,” says Keith.

She was regularly allocated new coaches by Bassetts when they were delivered, and worked alongside other women drivers at the Staffordshire firm.

Gloria remained with Bassetts until its coach operation was closed in 2001. She then moved to work for Alton Towers driving minibuses until 2003. She and her husband Arthur, also formerly employed by Bassetts, retired to France, but Gloria later returned to England after Arthur’s death.

The funeral will be held on Thursday 10 June at 1200hrs at Bradwell Crematorium, Newcastle-under-Lyme, ST5 8LE. Those who wish to attend are asked to first confirm with Keith Stanton via sostoke@gmail.com.