‘Southern softie’ to retire from road safety

14.48 | 19 May 2011 | | 10 comments

Roy Buchanan, road safety officer for the London Borough of Sutton, is to retire at the end of this month.

Roy became Sutton’s RSO 16 years ago after completing his service with the Metropolitan Police, where he specialised in the Traffic Division.

Roy, now 69, left school at 15 to train as a mechanical engineer in the heavy engineering industry – before realising that being a policeman was a cleaner and (at the time) better paid job. This career move allowed him to bring together three passions: motorcycling, engineering and roads policing. He became a Class-One police motorcyclist, an advanced vehicle examiner and enforced the law on the streets of Central London.

A patriotic Scot who grew up in Stockton-on-Tees, Roy became a ‘southern-softie’ when he moved to London in the sixties. “London was the only place for a young man to be in those days,” he says. “I was single with a pound in my pocket, a motorbike outside and no mortgage.”

Roy became a Fellow of the Institute of Diagnostic Engineers and, as we know from his contributions to this newsfeed, is a staunch disciple of roads policing.

Reflecting on his career, Roy says: “I have had three highlights; becoming a Class-One motorcyclist in 1970, graduating with an Honours degree in History and Literature in 1982, and receiving the European Excellence in Road Safety Award in 2006.”

Turning to the future, Roy says: “I am looking forward to going for a weekend bike ride on Wednesdays and not having to fill out a time sheet every Monday morning.”

He hopes to return to journalism – his evening-job in the seventies – and to expand his new one-man business: ‘Diamond Monologues: Facets of the Past’.

He says: “The only things I do well are write and talk; I am a wordsmith at heart. So, if anyone would like to hear a talk about the life of Admiral Nelson, Britain Between the Wars or The Battle of the Bulge, just give me a call, my rates are reasonable!”

Nick Rawlings, editor of Road Safety News, said: “Roy has been one of our most regular contributors to the sometimes heated debates which take place on our newsfeed – particularly those about roads policing and motorcycling.

“He is knowledgeable and passionate, but always courteous, even to those who may disagree with the position he takes. The editorial team hope very much that he will continue to participate in discussions on our newsfeed for many years to come – despite his retirement he still has much to offer road safety in these challenging and uncertain times.”

Roy concludes: “As a police motorcyclist, I was often the first one to arrive at the scene of an accident. I have forgotten most of them but one will haunt me forever: it involved Ken, a boy of eight, who was knocked down and became trapped under the car. He died while I was talking to him. For a few seconds the silence was tactile. I would like to think his ghost stood beside me every time I talked to a classroom of pupils.

“If, between us, we have saved another child from ending up like Ken, the mission has succeeded and I will be leaving road safety a happy man.”


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    Sorry to see you go, Roy. Best wishes for a long and happy retirement

    Penny Thorpe, Gwent
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    I am sorry to hear you’re retiring Roy; I presume this means there’s a vacancy for someone to bang on continually about roads policing on this feed? I expect to see Nick et al put a job ad up soon. I can’t do it – much as I agree with it – too busy banging on continually about evidence based practice :-). I wish you a long and happy retirement, with many motorcycle miles ahead!

    Mike Mounfield, Birmingham
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    Sorry to hear of your retirement and perhaps I might now have to pay more attention to the web site each week so that the voice of common sense – in my humble opinion – and the experience of having been at the sharp end on motorcycle and patrol car – is not lost to the masses, you are a hard act to follow. Academia and theory is fine but it does not always fit the pattern that is the human being behind the wheel or handlebars.
    Have a great third life and make sure that you take your pension for far longer than you were paying in!
    Best wishes

    Alan Hale, South Gloucestershire Council Road Safety Team
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    Roy, you’re not the retiring type!

    Good to have worked with you even if we didn’t always see eye to eye.

    Rob Gifford, PACTS
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    Happy retirement Roy – enjoy the bike rides, I will certainly miss you. Best wishes for the future.

    Angela Smith – Tower Hamlets
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    Your comments have been both educational and inspirational. My thoughts will ride with you into the sunset.

    May you have a long, active and happy retirement.

    Best wishes,

    Mark – Wiltshire
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    As a former Chair of LARSOA and working when ALBRSO joined us, I thank Roy for the work he has done over the years and wish him well for the future.

    Steve Whitehouse, Lancashire
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    I would like to wish Roy (aka Lips and Leather)a very happy and long ‘life after Sutton’. From my view as a London colleague Roy has always been so loyal to his beliefs and I am sure will continue to be as passionate and vocal about matters close to his heart.
    We will miss you!

    Liz, Lewisham
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    Here’s to a long and happy new phase in your life – retirement doesn’t seem the right word as I am sure you will be busier than ever.
    Thank you for many a spirited discussion and for your support in the South Eastern Group before I made the reverse journey to you and migrated up to the “hard North”! I wish you many a happy hour riding on open roads,
    very best wishes,

    Honor Byford, North Yorkshire
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    Best wishes Roy for a long and happy retirement.

    Bill Smith – Glasgow – dbda/RoSPA Products
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