A year ago Age Concern Fakenham Area Mininbus was in dire straights: the coordinator had resigned and left the area due to family illness, one of the buses was taken off the road due to a broken window, and efforts to find a replacement window were unsuccessful. That left the charity with one eleven year old bus, which was on its last legs, and the committee could see no way to carry on.
Revd. Francis Mason blessing the new minibus at its official launch on September 16th.
Also pictured (left to right): Margaret Hulme from Age UK, Bob Francis, Chairman of Fakenham Age Concern Minibus, and Adrian Verigan, Fakenham’s Mayor.
Two drivers, Bob Francis and Keith Tomlin, came forward in a bid to save the service. Many of the passengers were distressed that their lifeline to independence might be withdrawn and the committee were willing to look at all options for saving the service.
A new committee was formed, comprising members both new and past, and a new treasurer, June Berry was appointed.
Many local businesses agreed to sponsor the buses and this bought in a regular monthly income. The committee looked for grants and found that the government had a Community Transport Minibus Scheme. The committee applied and heard that they had been successful, one of only three in the eastern region, although the new bus has not yet been delivered.
The committee also applied for a grant to Age UK (Cornford Fund) of £30,000 towards another new bus to replace the eleven year old one. Again, they were successful and in July the new bus was purchased and can now be seen almost daily around the town.
Having two buses on the road has meant that the service can once again hire out a bus to organisations for over 55s and this is regularly taken up by homes and day centres for the elderly, who organise trips out.
The service also offers trips to its regular passengers and would like to extend this work and institute another route but are hampered at present by lack of drivers.
If you, or someone you know, has experience of driving vans or larger vehicles and has a D1 on your/their licence and would like to help, please phone Bob on 07990 026839.