Travel service is a lifeline to many

nrhn 050412'Helping hand: Driver Paul Stone helps a group of elderly ladies do there weekly shop in Ripley, once a week. And the mini-bus man even carries the bags!
nrhn 050412'Helping hand: Driver Paul Stone helps a group of elderly ladies do there weekly shop in Ripley, once a week. And the mini-bus man even carries the bags!
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TO MANY of us getting around town has never been a problem.

Jumping into a car, or hopping on a bus might just be second nature to many.

nrhn 050412'Off to the woods we go!: Children at Ripley Infants' School on Tavistock Avenue enjoy weekly excursions to Riddings Wood, courtesy of AVCT.

nrhn 050412'Off to the woods we go!: Children at Ripley Infants' School on Tavistock Avenue enjoy weekly excursions to Riddings Wood, courtesy of AVCT.

But to a large number of people in the borough, Amber Valley Community Transport (AVCT) is a real lifeline.

Its fleet of 19 vans and volunteer drivers help less able-bodied people maintain their independence, through its door-to-door transport service.

The charity, based at Cemetery Lane, in Ripley, offers affordable, pre-bookable travel for mobility affected people who need to get to doctors’ appointments, along with a dial-a-bus service, which allows those in remote locations to get around - in particular in places where public transport does not reach.

The comprehensive service also gives passengers a chance to hire mini-buses for excursions and has a pool of around 50 volunteer drivers, many of whom use their own vehicle to get isolated people to places they need to go.

Patrick Dawson is chief executive of Amber Valley Community Transport

Patrick Dawson is chief executive of Amber Valley Community Transport

Business manager for the charity Maureen Clark used to work in banking before joining AVCT.

“There would be such a big gap in transport services if we weren’t there.” She said.

“There are some areas where there’s no community transport, so we are very fortunate to have it here in Derbyshire.”

OAP Vicky Cresswell, of Kilburn, has been using the dial-a-bus service for 13 years now.

Driver Paul Stone takes her, and a group of five other elderly ladies from the area, to do a weekly shop at Ripley Sainsbury’s - and he even helps them carry their bags.

“This is our weekly outing. How would you feel if you were in your house all day long?” Said Vicky.

“It’s a Godsend this bus is, and Paul (the driver) is brilliant.”

But it is not just elderly and disabled people who are eligible to use the service.

Ripley infants’ School, on Tavistock Avenue in the town, hires a bus once a week to take its children to Riddings wood, where they can learn about nature.

Teaching assistant Vicky Warton, of Derby Road in the town, said: “We just wouldn’t be able to go without community transport.

“It would just cost us so much.

“Until we got this bus organised, we would just go round the school grounds.

“But now the kids love it - just ask them yourself!”

Vicky, who took advantage of the free driver training offer available to AVCT volunteers, now drives the children to Riddings Wood in the bus herself.

Volunteer Eric Smith, also signed up to drive for the charity.

He said: “I enjoy it so much, it’s brilliant.

“You are really giving something back to the community.”