A former homeless man who completely turned his life around has now been voted the 'happiest bus driver' in all of London.
Patrick Lawson spent 20 years sleeping rough on the streets of London and now, after receiving 45 commendations from passengers, he's won the Hello London Award for outstanding customer service at Transport for London's annual London Bus Awards.
Hailing from Hackney, Patrick didn't have an easy start to life - as a teenager he spent various stints in prison which led to him sleeping on benches around London as recent as four years ago.
He told the Evening Standard: "I got into trouble as a teenager and went down the wrong path - I got involved in crime. When I came out of prison I got involved in drugs and things progressively got worse."
After ending up in hospital, due to illness, Patrick was referred the Islington-based Single Homeless Project - in turn he went on to the transport social enterprise with the HCT Group, which helped him train as a bus driver.
Patrick Lawson is the happiest bus driver in London. Credit: Jeremy Selwyn/Evening Standard/eyevine
"I never believed charities would work but now I'm an advocate for their services. I want other ex-cons and homeless people to know that if they apply themselves and they have a plan, even a small one, they can achieve it," he added.
Now, Patrick's life is much different from those days and instead of selling 'The Big Issue' in Kings Cross he's on the road, driving his route 26 bus.
Patrick also makes a point of giving every single passenger a friendly and pleasant greeting.
He said: "My favourite part [of being a bus driver] is going out there and just meeting passengers. I want to greet every single person when they come on the bus and when they leave, and I have done that from day one with a big smile. Some passengers look at me in shock when I do it."
He's very grateful the HCT Group have put him forward for the award and commended him for his hard work.
He told London Live: "I'm happy for getting it, but it's just me and that's what I'm meant to do as a bus driver."
Lawrence Wilson, director for London at HCT Group, told the Evening Standard: "Patrick has come through a difficult time and, with the help of organisations like the Single Homeless Project and our own Learning Centre, he has really turned his life around. He truly deserves the bus-driving accolades and awards he has received."
Well done Patrick.
Featured Image Credit: Jeremy Selwyn/Evening Standard/eyevine