Selma Celebrated on Sussex Day
Towards the end of April this year, a Brighton Society member happened to board a route 25 bus displaying Selma’s name in big letters on the front. A joyous but unexpected first sighting.
Why unexpected? Following her death in April 2022, another of our members, Ian Steedman, had swung swiftly into action, nominating Selma for this honour. According to the guidance on Brighton & Hove Buses’ website, though, the person proposed needs to have been deceased “for at least a year”. So all I’d done was put a note in my diary to apply in 2023.
Ian remained sanguine and I’ve since learned that Selma’s bus didn’t actually hit the road (i.e. Lewes Road) until just after the first anniversary of her death.
Sadly, however, Ian Steedman himself had died just two months previously, unaware of his victory.
Back in 2007, Ian had also successfully campaigned for Sussex Day, a celebration of the county that now takes place on 16th June each year, the feast day of St Richard, patron saint of Sussex. The motto of Sussex Day: ‘We [i.e. the people of Sussex] wunt be druv’.
Selma, throughout nearly half a century of tireless campaigning, certainly wasn’t one to be druv either, which made Sussex Day ideal for a rendezvous with her bus. It would be a celebration of her life, that of Ian Steedman (who regrettably I never met) and 50 years of the Brighton Society, which Selma launched with John Morley in 1973.
It took a while to gain traction with Brighton & Hove Buses but persistence and particularly a chance encounter at the Conway Street Travel Office with Victoria Garcia, the company’s Accessibility and Communities Manager, paid off. Phew, just in time for Victoria to take the bull by the horns and arrange a rendezvous with Selma’s bus on Sussex Day 2023.
Where would we like to hop aboard, Victoria enquired? Next to the Birdcage Bandstand would have been particularly fitting since Selma fought so hard and long for its restoration and of course it is the Society’s enduring logo. Unfortunately, the bus couldn’t stop there because of the on-road cycle lane so we opted for its home base behind the locally listed Lewes Road garage.
By June 16th, Selma’s bus had still not been spotted on its route by any of us, which made it even more of a wonder to behold, gleaming in the intense June sunshine, having been scrubbed and polished both inside and out for our benefit. Along with two of Selma’s children, Sukey and Piran, those of us lucky enough to be available at short notice relished climbing aboard and even taking the driving seat at the invitation of our co-host Assistant Operations Manager, Carl English, who acted as our ‘driver’ for the group photo shoot.
Many thanks to Brighton & Hove Buses for a truly memorable half hour.