01 Jun Andy, Volunteer Bus Driver – Volunteers’ Week 2023
EVERYBODY is on first name terms on the bus dubbed the mobile community centre that is kept running by volunteer drivers.
Andy Baker, one of those who drives the number 61 from Livermead via St Luke’s and the town centre, doesn’t just know his customers; more often than not, he knows where they are going and when – so much so that if one is absent, then someone is sent out to check they are ok.
Andy, 70, a former electrician, moved to the Bay in 2004 to help set up a new department at South Devon College, but when he retired five years ago, he began looking for new opportunities and found lots of them.
He drives the OurBus one day a week, skippers for the Disabled Sailing Association once or twice a month out of Torbay Harbour and when the weather is good, he can be found helping out in the Oldway Mansion Gardens.
“I enjoy it. Let’s face it, I wouldn’t do it otherwise. You get to know everyone; they are appreciative and always up for a chat. You get to be treated like one of the family.
“I would recommend volunteering to everyone. It gets you out, you get to meet and help other people and of course, it is fun.”
Without volunteer drivers like Andy, the community bus would not be able to run, a fact that is noted by its grateful passengers like 78-year-old Eileen Harvey and her friends Iris Blackmore and Glenys Marriot, who make a point of using the service every day that it runs to pop into town for a coffee and a catch-up.
All three are from Livermead and are long-standing subscribers, but Eileen, who still has the option of driving, uses it to make sure it keeps running: “Without the bus, so many people would be lonely as they cannot simply walk into town or afford a taxi instead.
“We all know each other and of course all the volunteer drivers also know us and we know that we would not be able to run the service without them, we cannot praise them enough. It is wonderful and could not do without it.”
If you want to learn more about becoming a volunteer bus driver, contact Kelly Bedoyan, Community Transport Coordinator, on 07816 407495.