A HIGHLY unusual tribute will be paid in honour of a Winchester bus driver who died earlier this month.

The final journey of Brian Bell will be followed through the city by a Stagecoach bus in memory of the fifteen years he worked for the company.

Winchester-born Brian died from cancer, aged 56, on January 12.

His funeral procession will begin at the bus station in The Broadway on January 29.

The hearse will leave at around 12.30pm with the bus, driven by one his ex-colleagues, close behind.

Brian's cousin, Shirley Hoare, said: "He was a good guy. A really good guy. There's no other way to put it.

"We grew up together and had so much fun back then, when we were in Highcliffe.

"One of the best memories I've had with Brian is when he was the page boy at my wedding."

She continued: "He's touched the hearts of everyone he's met in the past. "Everyone knew him, and it's astounded me how many people say they recognise his name or his face."

Stagecoach has also announced that the Spring Route bus, that goes from Winchester to Kings Worthy, will be renamed the Brian Bell in his honour.

Steve Thorpe, Stagecoach South marketing officer, said: "He was a regular driver on that route. It is only right that we recognise his service."

Family and friends attending the funeral will swap out traditional black attire for blue jerseys - a direct request from Brian.

Shirley said: "He knew he was dying, and the only thing he made clear he wanted for his funeral was for us all to wear Chelsea Football Club shirts. So that's what we are going to do.

"As a family we all want to express our thanks to the Countess Mountbatten Hospice. They looked after him brilliantly."

The service will begin at 12.45pm inside the All Saints Church in Petersfield Road, Highcliffe.