TRIBUTES have been paid to the founder of the Barnsley coach and travel company KM Travel after he died aged 77.

Keith Meynell founded KM Travel in 1971 after acquiring a minibus following a part exchange deal.

Initially opening as a car sales business, KM Cars, Keith sold new and used cars, in addition to specialising in limousine hire for weddings and special occasions.

Karen Speed, Keith’s daughter, said that her dad valued his family and built the business, based on Market Street, Barnsley, to the point that all three of his children are now working for it.

“Myself and my two brothers Andrew and Jonathan all work for KM Travel and we have helped him build the business, which has now been running for 48 years,” she said.

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“His death has come as a sad loss to Barnsley. He was known to many people and he had an unbelievable work ethic, he was working until the month before he died.

“He was a fantastic dad, husband to wife Christine and a much loved grandfather to his grandchildren Thomas, Isabelle and Kirsten.”

Keith was born in Cudworth on August 23, 1942, to his parents Theodore and Eileen Meynell. He was one of 11 brothers and sisters and before setting up KM Cars, Keith served in the armed forces.

After KM Coaches was founded, he moved into the quality private hire market and, as a proud Barnsley man, provided the coaches for Barnsley Football Club’s team and supporters from the late 1970s into the early 1980s.

In 1978, KM Coaches won the prestigious Concours d’elegance Coach Award at the British Coach Rally. The rally is an event where people showcase their coaches and business.

Following several more wins, Keith began running a coach holiday programme which continues to this day.

Aside from his work life, Keith enjoyed socialising and loved horse racing. He even had his own winning thoroughbred race horse, named Barnsley Belle.

Karen said: “He will be greatly missed and we would like to express thanks to the many people for their kind messages.”