EMOTIONAL tributes have been paid to a Wirral bus driver following his sudden death.
Martin Fitch, who had been a bus driver for more than 26 years, passed away on Thursday.
Staff at bus depots across the borough have been left shocked and saddened by the news. He was described by colleagues as "steady, safe, with a dry sense of humour, always the first to find something funny in himself and a valued member of staff wherever he worked."
One said: "He was a workmate you could always rely on; quiet, unassuming, good with the public, and one of the best at the job."
Born in February 1964, Martin (pictured, above with his family) was educated at Noctorum High before joining the R.A.F in 1981, serving with 26 and 19 Squadron.
He left the R.A.F. in 1994 and went straight into being a bus driver at Merseybus - now Arriva - at their Laird Street depot, joining his father Brian who had started there as a conductor in 1971.
After 14 years service there, he left to go into business himself, as he had a brilliant computer brain and loved technical issues and gaming; but the venture didn't work out.
He returned to buses and joined Avon Buses in Prenton, moving to Stagecoach's depot in Rock Ferry when Avon Buses folded in the autumn of2018.
In a statement, the family said: "We have lost our best friend and our rock.
"He was the best Dad ever; he was our friend and our hero. He always looked after home and family.
"He was the one man who we could all rely on."
Martin married Kathleen Williams in 1982 (below) and the couple had two daughters, Donna, also a bus driver with Stagecoach and who has a daughter, Jasmine: and Victoria, who lives in Queensland, Australia.
The family reunited on holiday a few years ago in Queensland.
"One day he went to visit an old friend in Brisbane and planned to get the bus back, but missed it! he went for the train but it turned out that the train ran only twice a week.
"We had to drive all the way out to pick him up.
"He played the guitar and was a lover of all sorts of music, sadly he didn't have the singing voice to match!
"He painted pictures and was an accomplished artist, he was a very keen gardener - we've had our garden so many different ways.
we also have the house filled with model aircraft, tanks and barracks, all made by him.
"He was much happier at Stagecoach than he'd been for a while, he liked the staff and the company."
Martin with his family
Amongst the many paying tribute was Michael Bennett, who had been his manager at Avon Buses for 10 years.
He said: "Marty was one of those guys that you'd struggle to find anyone who didn't like him.
"If you did find such a person, it said more about them, than Marty."