Tributes to Wrightbus founder Sir William Wright

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Wrightbus boss Jo Bamford has heralded the legacy of Sir William Wright, who has died at the age of 94, saying that ‘he created the platform for a business which was now leading the world in zero-emission technologies’. 

Mr Bamford purchased the Wrightbus business in 2019 and paid tribute to the vision of Sir William, who founded the firm in Ballymena, County Antrim with his father Robert Wright after World War II. Prior to then, the family firm operated a commercial vehicle body repair business in Dublin.

“Sir William and his father were pioneers, of that there is no doubt,” said Jo Bamford. “The Wrightbus name is synonymous with everything they stood for and those values – problem-solving, hard work and never giving up – course through the business I run today. Sir William was fiercely loyal to this community and the fact his name is still held in such regard is testament to his relentless dedication.” 

Sir William pioneered aluminium bus framing in 1976, the first low floor bus in 1992, first British designed and built Electric powered bus in 1999 and finally ensured the future of the business by leading the design of the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell double deck bus in 2015. 

Wrightbus employs more than 1,000 people at its factory in Ballymena, County Antrim, and produced the world’s first hydrogen double-deck bus there. Its zero-emission battery electric bus was recently named as the most efficient in the world, with orders coming in from around the globe. 

“Everyone here at Wrightbus should never forget how this business started and the sacrifices which were made to ensure it goes from strength to strength in the future. Sir William is an indelible part of this fantastic story,” he added.

Hundreds of Wrightbus employees formed a guard of honour outside the Ballymena factory in tribute to Sir William Wright, on the day of his funeral on Wednesday 27th July 2022. Management and factory staff joined forces in huge numbers to pay their respects as Sir William’s funeral cortege passed by.

Tributes have poured in from across the world following the death of Mr. Wright, with politicians, civic leaders, business people and community figureheads all recognising his significant impact in the industry and local community.

Jo Bamford’s comments were echoed by Wrightbus Chief Executive, Buta Atwal, who said the guard of honour was a “fitting tribute” to a man who had put Wrightbus on the map. “Everyone here at Wrightbus has been saddened by the death of Sir William but they were determined to pay their respects,” he explained.

“The guard of honour was our way of thanking him for what he’s done for this business and this whole area, and we hope the family recognise that we will never forget the legacy he has left behind.”

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