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21st February 2022 @ 12:12pm – by Webteam
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london buspig


Back in the Queen's Diamond Jubilee year of 2012, the Malpas OPAL Club published a booklet entitled "Everybody Has a Story to Tell"

This booklet contained some 22 stories on the recollections of the then OPAL clubs members.

Some of you may know that Royston Downes or Roy as know to all of us, was a member of the Malpas OPAL Club for a number of years.

Roy was arguably one of the last great character's in the ever growing community of Malpas.

Roy's Storey written by Edel Ray is reproduced below.

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roy downes 1

Roy grew up on a farm in Oldcastle, just a mile outside of Malpas.
To begin with he lived in the farmhouse with his grandparents, his parents and his uncle George. However, one Saturday morning a low loader arrived in the yard, it was delivering a red, double-decker, London bus.

"What's that for?" asked the young Roy.

"It's for you," his grandfather replied. "It's your new house."

So it was.

The red double-decker bus was parked in the farm yard and Roy and his parents moved in and made a very cosy home.
His mother created a garden around the bus where she grew flowers and vegetables.
Roy loved his mum and always liked to help whenever he could ... especially in the garden.

From his top deck bedroom the young Roy could look east to the tower of St Oswald's and west to the Welsh hills. He thought he was a lucky boy to live in such a lovely place.

Roy, an only child, was a lively outdoor sort of boy, full of mischief and adventure.
He was a pupil at the Malpas Alport School when Mr Herbert Yates was the headmaster.
School was not Roy's favourite place to spend the day and he became very skilled at being too busy to go.

Some days, rather than walk up to school he would wait in the lane for his friend Yocker.
Yocker, a Welshman, would trundle up on his tractor and let Roy hitch a ride.

They would rattle along the A41, Roy sitting on the footplate, all the way to the cattle auction in Chester.Once at the auction Roy would make himself useful by washing vans and cleaning out the cattle trucks.
He saved what little money he earned to buy feed for his pigs.

On his eighth birthday Roy's grandfather gave him some piglets.
Roy looked after these piglets like they were family.He had a favourite, a sow called Binty.

Every morning, whatever the weather, Roy and his Mum would get up early and walk the three miles to Grindley Brook Farm Supplies to buy feed for the pigs.
Then they would carry the heavy sacks of feed all the way back to the farm.
After giving the pigs their breakfast, Roy would take them for a walk down the fields.
In the corner of one of the fields there was a fine old oak tree.

Roy would settle the pigs here and leave them to sleep or snout about for acorns until he collected them in the evening.

The pigs, especially Binty, grew into fine healthy creatures.
The pigs especially grew to trust Roy.
Roy and Binty had great fun together, she allowed him to scratch her belly with a stick and she would gently take acorns from his hand.

However, returning to the farm one day, Roy saw his grandfather talking to Sam Fowles, the slaughter man.
In those days animals were slaughtered on the farm.
Roy's heart sank. He knew what this meant; he knew that his grandfather wanted the pigs for slaughter, his grandfather wanted Binty.
Roy could not let this happen ... he would try and save Binty.

The next morning, before anyone else was awake, Roy got up and stole into the pig sty.
Leaving the four other pigs to their miserable fate he led Binty out of the yard and down the fields to the oak tree.
It was late autumn and there were plenty of leaves littering the ground.
Roy made Binty lie down close to the hedge and completely covered her in leaves.
She was well hidden and quite still.
He whispered to her to stay there and told her to listen out for the church bells at the end of the day, for that would be when he would return with her supper.
Binty seemed to understand.

For three whole days and nights Roy managed to keep Binty hidden and safe.
On the fourth day, Roy's grandfather shouted across the yard, "I found Binty." It was all he said, all he needed to say.

Roy was furious but dared not cross his grandfather.
Instead he ran into the red bus and blurted his anger at his beloved Mum. "Couldn't you have stopped him?"

"No Roy, love, we were out; he took Binty when no one was about."
Roy's Mum gave him a hug and they sat for a few moments in silent sadness.
Then Roy went up to the top deck and cried himself to sleep.

The country boy in him knew it had to be this way- that his grandfather was right.

Not long afterwards Roy and his parents left the red bus and moved to Bradley ... it would be easier for his Mum who worked in Whitchurch, not so far to walk.

roy downes chimney sweep

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