The bus blessed by a vicar, hit by a sinner and saved by a Bishop

Ray Laidlaw and Steve Bishop with the bus.
Ray Laidlaw and Steve Bishop with the bus.

Callous thieves stole new audio equipment worth thousands of pounds from a restored double-decker bus, just days after a member of the clergy performed a blessing ceremony on it.

The vintage Atlantean double-decker bus was blessed by the Reverend Dr Paul Collins, vicar of St Mary’s Church, Holy Island, ahead of a festival at the island last month.

But just hours before the bus picked up hoards of music lovers to take them to the Northumberland tourist spot to see Ray Laidlaw and Billy Mitchell perform at the event, it was discovered that thieves had broken in.

They took around £3,500-worth of amplifiers, speakers and sound systems, which had just been fitted to the bus.

Seats were also damaged, meaning that the team from Tyne Idols – a guided tour music and movie memorabilia company which provides the bus – had only minutes to clean up the mess, fit alternative sound equipment and pick up their waiting passengers.

The bus had been parked in a secure storage compound near Earsdon on North Tyneside.

Ex-Lindisfarne drummer Laidlaw, who is a partner in Tyne Idols, said: “It’s very ironic that our business is about making people happy by helping them to remember their personal good times in rock’n’roll and the cinema.

“These callous thieves have tried to spoil that enjoyment for others but the show must go on so I’m pleased to say that the bus journey went ahead as planned and everyone had a great time.”

The bus was blessed by Rev Collins to make sure it had a safe journey to and from the Holy Island Festival, which was staged from June 24 to 28. More than 4,000 people flocked to the island during the event, which featured Laidlaw and Mitchell perform the Lindisfarne Story.

Following the theft from the bus, North Tyneside Council and Kier have stepped in to help the Tyne Idols team by allocating a secure parking space for the double-decker.

Steve Bishop, from the council, said he was delighted to help.

He said: “The Tyne Idols team is an important part of the region’s culture.

“They attract visitors to the region and give a very positive impression of the North East’s entertainment industry.

“The bus will be a welcome visitor to one of our secure compounds.”

Because of the damage, new sound systems were being fitted last weekend, meaning that the bus could not make the recent Wallsend Festival. It will be back in action for this weekend’s Mouth of the Tyne Festival.

Laidlaw added: “I had to smile when I realised that the bus had been blessed by a vicar, violated by a sinner and then saved by a Bishop.”

To celebrate the enormous wealth of talent born in the region, Tyne Idols create, organise and host unforgettable experiences, promotions and tours throughout the North East.

For more information, visit www.tyneidols.com