From bus-cleaner to bus-driver, with The Big Lemon

Ryan Wrotny with his No52 Big Lemon
Ryan Wrotny with his No52 Big Lemon

At 13, Ryan Wrotny approached the owner of The Big Lemon bus company.

At 13, Ryan Wrotny - a student at Portslade Community College - approached the owner of The Big Lemon bus company and asked to join its members’ club.

Ryan at the wheel

Ryan at the wheel

Within a year, he was working evenings and weekends in the Big Lemon offices and cleaning the buses.

By the age of 17, he had left school to work full-time for the company and, using pocket money he had previously saved, bought three Big Lemon shares.

This month, 20-year-old Ryan became a licensed driver of the No 52, from the Old Steine to Woodingdean.

Mr Wrotny traces his love of buses back to a Matchbox toy he played with as a young boy. Ever since then, he wanted to become a bus driver.

He was attracted to the community spirit of The Big Lemon and its unique, eco-friendly ethos. Tom Druitt, the company’s founder in 2007, wanted to supply alternative, sustainable, and affordable transport in the city; his buses run on waste cooking oil or “chip fat” from local restaurants.

Eve Knight, one of Ryan’s passengers, is delighted by Ryan’s success: “We only have one bus that comes from Ovingdean, so this is our lifeline to the city centre. He’s cheerful, he’s thoughtful, he’s careful - and that goes for all of the drivers on The Big Lemon. We’re very lucky”.

Mr Druitt and his colleagues have helped Ryan into the business at every level, easing him into the company and giving him extra shares for free. They also paid the £3,500 fee for his Public Service Vehicle licence.

The last word goes to Mr Wrotny, who wants to keep growing with the company, and use his knowledge and passion to help it expand into other cities. “I’ve seen the company grow from nothing in Brighton and I’d love to help it start up somewhere else,” he said.