A CHARITY that serves the elderly community in Purton has acquired a brand-new minibus.

Purton and District Age Concern raised £40,000 through fundraisers and appeals to help pensioners get around town.

With two buses in operation the charity is back to full strength, allowing residents to zip along to lunches, trips and doctors’ appointments when they need. None of the 950 or so people benefitting from the service will be left behind either – the seven-seater vehicle comes complete with disabled access.

President of the charity Tony Price said: “The village is very kind and we’re very lucky that we got it. It means people can get out.

“We’ve got volunteers who are a great asset to the community to give up their time. They really feel for the people they’re carrying and form nice relationships with them.”

Emblazoned on the new bus are the names of John Blackwell and Joe Ricketts, who were long-time supporters of the service before they died. John used to be in charge of coordinating the drivers while Joe took care of secretarial duties such as insurance.

Tony added: “We did this in appreciation of all the work they have done over the years. It was an excellent team between them – they were kind, sincere and really helpful.

The acquisition is the seventh the charity has made since its first bus purchase in 1986. Bus number one served residents of The Cedars care home in Purton after it was rebuilt, but the service has expanded to meet demand.

Purton and District Age Concern is entirely led by a group of keen volunteers, including the drivers and their ‘shotguns’ who assist passengers onboard. Money for petrol, repairs and other costs is raised through charity lunches, calendar sales and garden parties as well as donations made through appeals. But the charity is always looking for more volunteers and cash injections to carry on serving the community.

Tony said: “What a marvellous achievement by all concerned in Age Concern, purchasing our seventh new minibus. Now do not think I am blowing our own trumpet because I am the first to know that we could not have done this on our own without the support we have received in various ways like donations and grants.

“I say this but I am going to mention two people – Graham Price, treasurer of the minibus and Louise Tidman, our secretary, for all the form filling and applications for grants. If it had not been for them we would have had to wait a lot longer for a new bus. Could I thank you all most sincerely for all your kindness, your donations and support not only for this bus but all the buses we have had.”