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Man who was homeless for 20 years turns life around to be voted London's happiest bus driver

A man who spent 20 years sleeping rough has been voted London’s happiest bus driver.

Patrick Lawson, 50, of Finsbury Park, received 45 commendations from passengers to win the Hello London Award for outstanding customer service at Transport for London’s annual London Bus Awards.

He motivates himself by looking in the mirror each day with the mantra “I am happy”, greets people with a smile as they board his route 26 bus, and enjoys assisting disabled passengers.

Originally from Hackney Mr Lawson became homeless after spells in prison as a teenager and just four years ago was sleeping on benches and selling the Big Issue in the King’s Cross area. He ended up in hospital where he was referred to the Islington-based Single Homeless Project and transport social enterprise the HCT Group, which helped him train as a bus driver. Mr Lawson said: “I got into trouble as a teenager and went down the wrong path — I got involved in crime. When I came out of prison I got involved in drugs and things progressively got worse.

Photo of Patrick Lawson, by Naomi Ackerman@nomiackerman

“I never believed charities would work but now I’m an advocate for their services. I want other ex-cons and homeless people to know that if they apply themselves and they have a plan, even a small one, they can achieve it.”

He added: “My favourite part [of being a bus driver] is going out there and just meeting passengers. I want to greet every single person when they come on the bus and when they leave, and I have done that from day one with a big smile. Some passengers look at me in shock when I do it.”

Lawrence Wilson, director for London at HCT Group, said: “Patrick has come through a difficult time and, with the help of organisations like the Single Homeless Project and our own Learning Centre, he has really turned his life around. He truly deserves the bus-driving accolades and awards he has received.”

Source: www.eveningstandard.co.uk

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