HAROLD Raper was never the same after his wife Elsie died in the Crawleyside Bank bus crash, his granddaughter recalls.

Judith Simpson, 57, said: “My grandfather was totally lost without her. I remember him saying later in life he didn’t know what to do with himself.

“He used to walk up to the top of his street to the main shopping street was and used to just stand on the corner, letting time pass by, because he didn’t want to stay in the house by himself.

“I felt it was so sad. I always had a great affection for my grandfather. He was lovely man. I always felt so sorry for him.”

Recalling the day of the crash, Mrs Simpson said: “I was at home in Blackhall at the time and saw a newsflash about the bus crash. I knew my grandparents were on the bus.

"My dad was out walking the dog and I ran down the back lane as he was returning, saying, 'There’s been a crash, there’s been a crash'.

“It was not the best way to do it, but then you are young.

“My father drove straight through to Crawleyside where he identified my grandmother. My grandfather spent some time in hospital. He came out of the crash virtually unscathed. All he had was a couple of stitches in his head. He couldn’t understand how he got off so lightly.”

She added: “I went to my grandfather’s house after the crash. In those days they had people laid out in a coffin in the sitting room. I remember wanting to go in for something and being stopped and told I couldn’t. There were lots of people coming to the house and in tears.

“It was only later when I got older that it sank it and I realised the full enormity of what had happened.”

Mrs Simpson said her father’s brother Kenneth Raper, who served in the Durham Light Infantry had been killed shortly after D-Day and his name appeared on the village war memorial.

She said: “The Crawleyside disaster memorial is opposite that, so my grandmother is facing her son.”

Mrs Simpson said her grandfather’s spirits picked up when he moved into sheltered housing in Blackhall Rocks.

She said: “We were always near him saw him every week. He picked up a lot when moved there. It was more a community and he was on the committee and that. He was well liked.”

Mrs Simpson, added her grandfather, wrote a touching poem shortly after his wife’s death.

A heartache here, Is a stepping

Stone to the One Above

Sometimes Death too, can be a

Beautiful thing

Ease from All heartaches it

doth bring

You were tired Dear

You needed the rest

I can’t doubt God’s wisdom

For He knows best