Newmarket property developer and stud owner Bill Gredley treated pensioners to a Champagne seaside special on Thursday.
The annual Gredley Day Trip saw around 900 pensioners from Newmarket and surrounding villages enjoy a free day out at Great Yarmouth.
On top of receiving spending money once they arrived, the day-trippers were picked up from collection points near to their homes, driven the 150-mile round trip to the beach and back and given tickets to a musical to cap off the day.
The coaches even made a champagne stop on the A11 where the senior residents enjoyed a glass of bubbly, soft drinks provided by Waitrose and cakes and biscuits brought by volunteers.
For one resident of Cheveley and her party, Betty Rowell, this was a first.
“We had never had a glass of champagne on a bus before,” she said.
“Mr Gredley is a wondeful man. I would love to ring him up and thank him personally.”
June Curtis, of Malvern Close, was equally full of praise for Mr Gredley and the organising committee.
She said: “I think it’s a fantastic outing. It brings people together and you see people that you haven’t seen for years.
“In my life as a PA I have realised the work that goes into organising such an event. And it runs like clockwork.
“I think Mr Gredley should have a knighthood. I think he’s a fantastic man to even think of such a thing. There’s not anyone else who does this sort of thing.”
The popular event, which ran its anniversary 25th edition last year, saw the pensioners given £10 courtesy of the Gredley Charitable Trust to spend on traditional seaside fare like fish and chips and ice cream, games at the arcade on Britannia Pier or souvenirs and luxuries from shops along Regent Road.
Trust chairman Margaret Butcher organised the day with help of an army of about 50 volunteers.
The preparations, which include hiring out an entire theatre and booking coaches, began in January.
When one of the 21 coaches suffered a flat tyre at a pick up point in Burwell, Mrs Butcher had a back-up plan.
She said: “We sent a spare coach out. We always have contingency plans in case of problems. We try to cover any eventuality that could happen.”
Passengers on another coach were also temporarily stranded when it broke down on the road a mile away from the sea front.
They were picked up by another coach which had already made a drop-off and the passengers were transferred and driven to rejoin the others at the seaside.
Burwell resident Bubs Stevens has been on the day trip with a number of different people in 20 years. Her mother-in-law came with her when she was 95 and her daughter, Rosemary Muir, is a former Gredley employee who used to help on the trip.
“It’s a hell of a lot of hard work that goes into it,” she said.
After spending the day shopping, taking in the sea views with a tea or coffee or playing on the slot machines, the pensioners settled in to watch Back to Broadway on the pier, as the cast belted out some popular musical numbers.
Mrs Butcher thought the day was a great success.
She said: “It’s gone brilliantly. We had a lovely day and lovely weather. We had a lovely time singing songs on the bus home and we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
“The trip is a great success and it’s appreciated by all the pensioners. It’s nice that the helpers come and it creates a nice community spirit. It’s a good thing that Mr Gredley set up. It’s good that we can carry his wishes through.”