A STUDENT travelling on a coach which was gutted by a fire, has heaped praise on the “amazing” driver who escorted all passengers off unharmed.

The coach was taking 21 students to Hartpury College from Worcester, Malvern and Ledbury, when it was forced to pull up on the A449 towards British Camp, as smoke seeped from the engine.

Speaking to the Worcester News, 16-year-old Anna Trigg said “no one could have done a better job” than coach driver Martin Harris during the emergency on Wednesday morning.

“He was amazing and kept us all safe and stayed calm and so we kept calm,” said the first-year animal management student from Malvern.

“He knew exactly what to do.”

Anna went on to describe how, at around 8.30am, “we were coming up to the camp on the main road, and all of a sudden people could smell smoke”.

“I didn’t notice it at first, I had my ear phones in, and was tired as it was early. I could hear my friend saying: ‘I can smell smoke’.”

Anna had only got on the coach around 10 minutes before at Barnards Green.

“Our driver Martin was aware of what was going on. He was constantly checking his mirrors,” she continued.

“He stopped the coach as soon as he was aware of the smell of smoke – it was getting thicker and heavier. One of my friends said she was coughing.”

Anna, who previously attended The Chase Technology College, Malvern, said Mr Harris quickly escorted all of the passengers off the coach.

“That all happened in about 15 seconds. We were able to get all of our belongings. Martin did a head count and took us up to British Camp car park, to make sure we were all away from the incident.”

Anna said the students were stood outside the bus for about a minute and she could see the “black smoke getting thicker” and “flames at the back of the bus”.

She said Mr Harris then called the emergency services and, when the police arrived, the students were taken to the hotel next to the British Camp.

They waited for a replacement coach and were given hot chocolate, before arriving at school at around 11.30am.

“It was quite traumatising, quite scary for everyone,” added Anna, who said it was the talk of the college for the rest of the day.

Lucy Conway, of Aston's Coaches of Kempsey, which runs the service, said Mr Harris had noticed the coach was lacking in power and saw black smoke in the rear-view mirror, coming from the engine compartment.

Fire crews from Malvern, Ledbury and Worcester were sent to the scene, on the Malvern side of British Camp.

“We make sure all our drivers are trained for emergency situations, but we're still really grateful to him,” said Ms Conway, adding that the Scania century coach is a write-off.

"It's too early to say for sure, but it may have been an electrical fault," she said. "We will be investigating the cause thoroughly.”