The Whickham Community Bus Trust is the proud owner of a brand new bus thanks to six years’ fundraising by local people.
The £50,000 vehicle has been bought with £40,000 raised from the community and £10,000 from the sale of the previous bus.
The trust was formed in 1998 to provide affordable low cost transport for community groups in and around Whickham, helping people who would otherwise find it hard to get out and about.
Trustee Ian Morland, who coordinates the bus service said: “The trust was set up to help improve the lives of local people. Our community is very supportive, after all any of us might need the bus one of these days.
“We welcome all donations, which have ranged from thousands of pounds to shopping change collected at bag packing events. Local businesses have supported us too.
“When we bought the last bus in 2006, fundraising began again straight away for our new bus. We plan ahead as far as we can, and it takes time to raise this amount of money.
“The trust is run entirely by volunteers, so whatever money we raise goes straight back into the service.
“On behalf of all the bus users we’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to the new bus, it really does make a difference.”
Users of the bus include day care centres, church groups for outings, guide leaders, branches of the Womens’ Royal British Legion and carers groups. The bus can be hired on a sessional basis during the day, in the evening or at the weekend. Hire charges cover administration, maintenance, cleaning, fuel, repairs, driver training and insurance.
The bus is fully accessible for most types of wheelchair and has forward facing seats with all-age inertia reel lap and diagonal seat belts and adjustable head rests. Wheelchairs are secured by clamps and inertia reel belts are provided. The trust can also arrange for the supply of up to three wheelchairs during any hire period in return for a small donation.
User groups can provide their own appropriately qualified driver or a volunteer driver and passenger assistant may be able to help out.
For more information about hiring the bus call the trust on07919 984 923 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.