As Chair of the Seaton Regeneration Board, I was saddened to hear this morning of the death of Trevor Shears, a leading light in the Seaton Tramway for many years.
A fellow Yorkshireman, Trevor had a relationship with the Seaton Tramway over several decades, through which he has made a major contribution to shaping the unique opportunity Seaton now offers to our visitors and residents alike.
Former bus company boss, philanthropist and chairman of the popular tourist attraction, Seaton Tramway, passed away peacefully at his home in Newcastle on 10th May surrounded by his family. Trevor Shears OBE, (69), had been fighting a brave battle with metastatic liver cancer diagnosed just earlier this year.
Trevor, born in Ilkley, West Yorkshire, began his career as a trainee chartered accountant in his home town of Bradford and in 1974 he entered the bus industry with Northern General Transport Company, moving to East Yorkshire Motor Services and returning to Northern General in 1979 to become the company secretary, then finance director.
It was during his time here that the bus industry was de-regulated, and became the Go-Ahead Group in 1987. Go-Ahead floated on the stock market in 1994 and made Trevor a very wealthy man, but in 1996 Trevor decided to retire and spend more time with his wife, Lyn, and with the Shears Foundation, a charity they had set up together to assist a range of educational, environmental, medical, social and arts projects to which the couple have donated more than half their wealth over the years.
Trevor was quoted as saying “I expected to be an accountant all my life with a reasonable middle-class sort of existence, but what happened since 1987 was not even a wild dream before then.”
Although Trevor’s home was in Newcastle, his great and life-long passion was for transport, and particularly Seaton Tramway with which he had a long and enduring relationship, even up until the middle of April this year which was to be his last visit.
Having witnessed the catastrophic damage done to the Tramway’s track by the storms in February, Trevor’s last wish was to see how the repair work had been achieved and to see all his friends and colleagues one last time.
Managing Director, Jenny Nunn, said:
“We were so impressed that he managed to do this as he was really very ill and travelling all the way from Newcastle was a tremendous feat. I know how much it meant to him to be able to make this journey and see everyone for the last time.
He was an extremely savvy businessman and one of the Tramway’s most stalwart of supporters. He loved coming to Seaton, especially in August each year when he knew he had two whole weeks of bliss – driving trams! Although it is a sad time for us, Trevor laid the foundations for the company’s future strategy and growth and it’s because of that we shall continue to be a successful and much-loved tourist attraction appealing to people from far and wide.”
In fact, Trevor first started at Seaton Tramway in the mid-seventies as a volunteer before being invited to join the board in 1989. He later became chairman but in the early noughties it was mainly at his instigation that the company designed, built and invested in three new additions to the Tramway fleet in order to meet the increased flow of visitors.
In 2010, the company celebrated 40 years of operation at Seaton and it was Trevor’s honour to take pride of place, alongside Brotherhood of Man on top of tram 12, in thanking the people of Seaton for all their support and good wishes over the years – It is with this vision that the company has grown to be a major tourist attraction in East Devon today, attracting more than 90,000 visitors each year.
Trevor is survived by his wife, Lyn, his two children from his first marriage, Amanda and Richard, his two step children, Mark and Louise, and seven grandchildren.