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Giving it all up for a life on the omnibus

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 10, 2012

  • Pete Woodford takes the reins and drives the 19th Century omnibus with the stallion shire horses

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A couple have given up their previous lives by selling their home and belongings to operate a 19th century omnibus.

Pete Woodford, 47, and partner Nicky Mendham, 38, are now living in a tent in order to live out their dream of 20 years.

The pair packed up and left their homes last month and haven't looked back since.

Now, they are pulled around on their omnibus by their two shires – named after members of the Beatles, George and Ringo – in Helston, Cornwall.

Nicky, originally from Hull, who used to be a regional manager for a bank, said it has never felt strange no longer living in her home and is enjoying her new life.

She said: "Pete has had shires for 22 years and has bred them and broken them in, although I was more of the thoroughbred type.

"He introduced me to his mare and I just couldn't believe that such a huge animal could move so gracefully.

"We understood that there will be a massive decline in shires over the next 20 years so we wanted to get the shires out there to show people the working horse.

"A large proportion of them are bred for their bloodlines which is fantastic and they do really well in the show ring.

"But we want other people to see that these animals are versatile and they can go out in the public and can be used for educational and tourism purposes.

"It isn't too strange being away from our old houses, we are pretty grounded here really and it is quite nice.

"The tent we live in is quite a large one, around 20ft and it is padded out.

"It keeps us warm and dry and as tents go I guess we are living the life of luxury."

The couple are currently surviving on the money received for Pete's house which was sold and are setting up their business to use their shires for different services.

The pair have been together just 18 months and met coincidentally after Nicky was renting out a room in Pete's father's home.

She admitted the pair began chatting and discovered each other's interest in horses.

Nicky said that prior to renting a room with Pete's father, she was living with her ex-husband in a "massive three bedroom town house" but claims she wouldn't change a thing now.

Ex-builder Pete, originally from Buckinghamshire, who formally lived in a four-bedroom home said of his horses: "It's a fantastic sight to see and it's something I have wanted to do for many years.

"Everything I own has basically gone into what I love doing. Anything to bring this fantastic rare breed out to the public."

The first omnibus in the UK started in London in 1829, but had been running in Paris and the US for a few years previously.

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