Time to say a big goodbye

PATRICIA Clark will ride on the Langley's special transport school bus for the final time on Friday, and farewell many of the special needs children she has assisted over the past 15 years.

Laraine Garraway, whose son Nick has cerebral palsy and was a passenger on the bus throughout primary and high school, described Pat as a "beautiful lady" with "a big heart".

Pat often went "above and beyond" her role as transport support officer, Mrs Garraway said.

The opportunity to work with the special needs children was initially temporary, however, when a co-worker was unable to return to the position, Pat was happy to take on the role.

The Assisted School Travel Program provides transport to and from school for students whose special needs range from physical and intellectual disability, to those with behavioural problems.

Currently accompanying eight students on the bus run which transports children to Dubbo College's South and Senior campuses, Pat remembers the days when seatbelts on buses were not mandatory and the bus run catered for 19 children.

Ros Joseph, whose grandson Joshua travels on the bus, said, "Josh is one of those lucky students, as he has been privileged in having Pat watch over him as he travelled to school for the past five years".

Although semi-retired, both Pat and her husband John, who suffered a fatal stroke three years ago, had been employed at Langley's after several years of managing the Centrepoint Motel in Bourke Street.

Their association with the Langley family, who originally managed a tour and bus company in Sydney, was established when the Clarks were the only Dubbo motel owners to respond to an expression of interest to accommodate potential guests on their tours.

Pat Clark confessed she is simply a woman who "loves people" and "loves to care".

She has great admiration for the parents of the special needs children who ride the bus each day.

"It is often a tough job for these parents," Pat said.

Her time caring for the children is short in comparison, limited to only an hour each morning and afternoon.

This time may be short, but the relationships she has built with the students and their families are life-long.

Many of them now young adults, Pat has shared numerous 18th and 21st birthdays celebrations, and a breakfast will be held on Saturday to farewell the woman who "has a special place in their hearts".

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