Volunteers keep community bus wheels going round and round

The wheels on Ourbus go round and round…thanks to our fantastic volunteer drivers, but much like any fantastic thing, you can never have enough, so we are on the lookout for more volunteer drivers!

Ourbus run two community bus routes taking passengers into Torquay Town Centre; the 61 which serves Livermead and St Luke’s on a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and the 65 which serves M&S at The Willows, Hele, St Marychurch, Babbacombe & Plainmoor on a Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Neither of which could be done without the help of our team of 4 volunteer drivers.

Andy Baker is one of those drivers. He volunteers on the 61 service and has got to know his passengers very well.

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 for 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 we could not do without it.”

The passengers and volunteer drivers who are part of Ourbus know that it provides more than just a bus service; it’s a community centre on wheels where neighbours can meet, share news, find out more about what’s going on in their area and maybe even become friends. And that’s exactly what happened up at Livermead.

Since Ourbus has been running the 61 service a group of ladies from the Livermead area have really had a chance to get to know each other. They got talking on the bus and eventually decided to start a coffee morning which continues to meet every Tuesday. During lockdown, because of the friendships that had been formed, they were checking in on each other to make sure everyone was ok and had everything they needed. All from spending a couple of hours a week on the same bus!

So, for Ourbus to keep doing all of this we really need more volunteer drivers. If you think you could offer some time and would like to give back to your local community then please do get in touch.

For more information about volunteering for Ourbus contact Kelly Bedoyan, Community Transport Coordinator, on 07816 407495. No experience is necessary and all you need is a D1 on your licence. We also don’t have an upper age limit so if you no longer have the D1 entitlement, we can help with getting it added back on.