Coach hire firm couple mark 60th anniversary

Lionel and Nancy Neal.
Lionel and Nancy Neal.

A couple who founded their family coach hire company in Isleham nearly 60 years ago are today celebrating their Diamond Wedding.

Lionel and Nancy Neal, of Beck Road, met for the first time as teenagers when Lionel travelled from his home in Chippenham to a youth club in Isleham, where Nancy lived.

Lionel and Nancy Neal

Lionel and Nancy Neal

They became a couple soon after and said “I do” at St Andrew’s Church, Isleham, on January 9, 1954, when Lionel was 21 and Nancy was 19.

Nancy, now 79, started Neal’s Travel in 1958 with just one taxi cab and Lionel, 81, joined his wife at the family business in the early 1970s.

Before that, he worked at his grandfather’s farm in Chippenham, at Webbs in Exning, and at the Eastern Electricity board.

Now run by their children, Bridget Paterson and Graham Neal, both from Soham, Neal’s Travel has expanded to own a fleet of 19 coaches and provides airport transfers and coach and minibus hire to Cambridge, Newmarket and the villages and towns across Cambridgeshire.

Lionel and Nancy have four grandchildren, Gareth, Phillip, Paul and Lauren, and five great grandchildren, Arthur, Oscar, Rhys, Amelia and Polly.

They will be celebrating their milestone 60-year anniversary with a family lunch at the Riverside House Hotel in Mildenhall.

And later this month the pair will be soaking up the sunshine when they head off on a cruise around the Caribbean.

Nancy said the secret to a long and happy marriage was “give and take and sharing everything together”, while Lionel jokingly added: “I do as I’m told”.