SIDMOUTH will host the launch of a £1.5million fleet of new double-decker buses next month – with an appearance from Olympic hero Mary King.

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Stagecoach has organised an event on the Esplanade on Tuesday, January 8, after investing in eight state-of-the-art vehicles for the popular 52 service that runs through the town.

Eventing ace and special guest Mary will be on board a vintage horse-drawn omnibus from Stagecoach co-founder and chief executive Sir Brian Souter’s personal collection.

The London 2012 silver medallist and the omnibus will lead a procession involving a quartet of the new buses along the seafront.

Invited guests can choose between a vintage or 21st Century travel experience.

All of the new vehicles present will sport a special livery depicting a variety of Sidmouth scenes.

Stagecoach South West this week announced the purchase of the vehicles for the 52 route - which runs between Exeter, Sidmouth, Seaton and Honiton and is popular with both residents and visitors.

The firm says the move represents a total investment of £1.5million and demonstrates its continued commitment to Devon’s public transport services.

The new buses all meet latest Euro 5 low emissions standards.

‘Delighted’ Michelle Hargreaves, managing director of Stagecoach South West, said: “We have been able to demonstrate that, despite the challenging economic climate, we are still spending on new buses to provide an even better service to our customers.”

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council cabinet member for highways and transportation and chairman of Sidmouth Town Council, added: “The Service 52 has been a real success story with increasing patronage on an important link across East Devon.

“This new investment from Stagecoach is very welcome and shows confidence in this thriving route. These are state of the art buses which should attract more passengers to explore and see what Sidmouth and other towns along the route have to offer.”

Festivities on January 8 will begin at 11am.

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