Community transport charity changes gear after big merger

Arun Co-ordinated Community Transport in Ford has merged with Sammy Community Transport in Bognor. Pictured left to right are: Linda Kimber, Roy Dew, Nikki Jones and Chris Jones.
Arun Co-ordinated Community Transport in Ford has merged with Sammy Community Transport in Bognor. Pictured left to right are: Linda Kimber, Roy Dew, Nikki Jones and Chris Jones.

A community transport charity is shifting gear after a merger which will make it the second biggest of its kind in the county.

Arun Co-ordinated Community Transport in Ford has joined forces with Sammy Community Transport in Bognor Regis to help people across the coast, from Chichester in the west to as far east as Hove in East Sussex.

Together, the two charities will have 19 minibuses and will be able to transport between 3,500 and 4,000 people a month.

Transport co-ordinator Nikki Jones said it was ‘very exciting news’: “It is going to benefit a great deal of people in the community and there is an unlimited potential of things we can do to keep expanding out.”

The drivers work on a voluntary basis, and many of them use their own cars to take elderly people to hospital, GP and dental appointments.

The charity also runs a shopping bus scheme which takes people to Sainsbury’s in Rustington and Morrisons in Wick four times a week, with plans to expand to Asda in Ferring and Aldi in Rustington.

A club bus also takes residents to pubs across the county, with a trip to the Anne of Cleves House Museum in Lewes in the pipeline.

Tom Billingshurst from Angmering has volunteered for seven years.

The 71-year-old, who worked for West Sussex County Council’s highways department for 40 years, said the most unusual drive he did was taking a mother superior from Arundel to a convent in Lynton, Devon. He also drove for four hours to take a lady to a funeral in South Wales.

Roy Dew from Worthing has been volunteering for 21 years. With a cheeky smile, the former Chelsea football player and driving school owner said he was ‘the best in the business’: “I have done very well in my life, and it was time to put something back into it.”

The charity will be second only to the Bluebird Community Partnership in size in West Sussex.