MP joins 40th anniversary celebration for minibus association
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert joined a gathering of more than 100 volunteers in Coldwaltham on Thursday (12 May) to celebrate 40 years of West Sussex’ Community Minibus Association.
The Community Minibus Association (West Sussex) is a registered charity, providing door to door transport services since 1976. What makes the Association so special is that it is entirely run by volunteers who give up their time to drive the buses, escort passengers and manage the bookings and fleet.
The community minibus service was originally set up with just a single bus. Now the Association has 13 minibuses, covering 45 villages from 8 centres located in Ashington, Billingshurst, Five Villages (south of A27), Petworth, Pulborough, Storrington, Steyning and Wisborough Green.
Passengers who register to use the service are able to enjoy trips to shopping centres and seaside resorts, and access lunch clubs and local events.
Mr Herbert is Vice-President of the Association and has often spoken of the commitment and hard work the volunteers who deliver a service that is so essential to those living in a very rural county.
The special anniversary event took place in the Music Room of Champs Hill in Coldwaltham, a prestigious location for which the Association thanked the Bowerman Charitable Trust for allowing them to use.
The gathering of volunteers and supporters included representatives from District and Parish Councils and the Association’s President Sir Brian Barttelot OBE. The Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex, Mrs Susan Pyper presented awards to some of the Association’s dedicated volunteers in recognition of their dedication.
The occasion was also an opportunity to unveil the new Government funded minibus which has recently been donated to the Association. The minibus is one of 300 given to charities and local groups from the Department of Transport’s £25 million Community Transport Minibus Fund. The new Ford Transit has been given the Association’s eye-catching livery and is now operating in Steyning.
Chairman Alistair Sheppard OBE said: “Passengers enjoy our friendly service, and look forward to meeting both new friends and old during their trips. Our tremendous group of unpaid volunteers over 40 years of activity, and hopefully 40 years more, help to maintain our essential support to the local community of rural West Sussex.”
Nick Herbert thanked the volunteers for their service to the community, describing the Community Minibus Association as “a public service in the truest sense - run for the public, by the public, thanks entirely to the dedication of so many selfless volunteers”.
1. Photograph 1 – Alistair Sheppard OBE (far left) and Nick Herbert with Association members alongside the new minibus.
2. Photograph 2 – Nick Herbert with the many volunteers of the Community Minibus Association.