“Rest in peace. From Chris, a regular bus passenger.”
In among the sea of flowers and tributes spilling over from a bench at Elgin bus station, it was the one that struck a chord with me the most.
It was touching, it felt like it spoke for everyone – but most striking of all was its simplicity.
Words fail to convey the overwhelming shock and sadness there has been since everyone woke on Saturday morning to the news of Keith Rollinson’s death.
Last week it seemed incomprehensible that a bus driver would die while doing his job.
There’s a numbness, a numbness that will take some time to go away.
And Chris’s lack of words on his tribute seems to acknowledge the fact that right now nobody seems to know what to say, despite the palpable shock, anger and overwhelming sadness.
Inconceivable that growing worries at Elgin bus station could lead to tragedy
It’s fair to say there have been growing worries about anti-social behaviour at Elgin bus station for at least the last two years.
Not just from Stagecoach, but from the police, town centre businesses and local representatives.
I don’t think anyone ever thought it could lead to the death of a bus driver, who was just doing his job like any of his colleagues could have been.
It’s important to stress that police say they were called to the bus station following reports of an assault, the circumstances of which will be examined as part of the legal process.
Regardless, the fact is a loving family member and popular co-worker hasn’t returned home from work.
In this part of the world we often console ourselves that things like this only ever happen elsewhere, not in the north-east and certainly not in Elgin.
The truth remains that they are still incredibly rare, and while remembering Keith and addressing any issues that led to his death, we must not let one incident tarnish the reputation of our area.
Life goes on. Today buses driven by Keith’s colleagues continue to arrive and depart at the bus station.
And passengers continue to check the list of services not running pinned to the wall, services cancelled due to a nationwide shortage of bus drivers.
Huge support from Elgin community
In the hours following Keith’s death, it was immediately obvious that people from Elgin and across Moray wanted to support his family.
At times like this people just want to show that they care, and that even if they didn’t know him, he was doing a valuable job in our community.
Bus drivers are out in all weather, in the early mornings when road conditions are often at their worst, on public holidays and didn’t stop at all during the Covid pandemic.
It makes the treatment of Stagecoach staff all the more shocking.
In about 24 hours, more than £20,000 has been raised to support Keith’s family in an online fundraiser started by his co-workers.
Such an outpouring of generosity is rare and, thankfully, rarely needed. Let’s hope it stays that way.
David Mackay lives in Elgin and is a news journalist with the Press and Journal. Donations can be made to support Keith’s family online HERE.