Austerity may be in the air, but the generosity of individuals and business has provided the Kennet Community Transport Trust with £30,500 in three months to buy a new mini-bus to transport elderly and infirm people in and out of Marlborough.
The bright white bus fitted out with seats for 12 passengers went on display in the Waitrose car park today (Friday) as tributes were paid to the donors, including the store itself, which presented trust chairman Alexander Kirk Wilson with its own contribution of £295.
And deputy manager Tim Pike, who made the cheque presentation to former Mayor Kirk Wilson, announced that the supermarket will consider ways of using the bus to bring people from the villages surrounding Marlborough to shop at the supermarket.
Raising funds for the new bus only began seriously at Christmas after the Marlborough Area Board gave an initial £5,000 to launch the appeal and another £3,000 came from Wiltshire transport grants.
More than £6,000 was raised by way of individual donations ranging from £1 to £100 with one individual providing £1,000 for the project, which already enables driver Roland Lockey to bring 50 to 60 people a week to and from the New Road and Jubilee centres, which care for the aged.
“The real life-saver was Robert Hiscox, the erstwhile High Sheriff of Wiltshire,” revealed Councillor Kirk Wilson. “Not only did he chip in personally but Hiscox plc, his international insurance company helped as well.
“And Robert also put the squeeze on three of his business friends who donated sums in a very generous way. It was absolutely magic that we have raised all we need and don’t have to be involved in HP.
“We’re thrilled to bits to have such a lovely new bus bringing people in from all the villages around Marlborough, as well as Pewsey. It works wonders for them.”
The Waitrose donation came from its Community Matters green token scheme. “This is a fantastic example of how well it works,” Mr Pike told Marlborough News Onlie. “We are always delighted to be able to support the community and we will be looking at the idea of using the bus in the quiet periods of the day to bring people in to Marlborough to shop at Waitrose.”
Trust treasurer Joe Hagerty was equally delighted. “The generosity of people and local businesses has been absolutely amazing,” he said.
“We only started to fund raise seriously at Christmas and we’ve been able to raise enough to buy a new bus in this short time. Our sincere thanks to everyone who contributed.”