Martin and June Hull took on the scheme in 2018 when it was undertaking around 35 trips per month. Drivers are now carrying out in excess of 350 trips per month (sometimes over 450 on covid vaccination days). Over 300 people have been taken to their covid vaccinations and the scheme are proud to think that they have been an essential element in keeping the community safe. Contrary to widespread belief the scheme is not a business, is not funded and is run by unpaid volunteers.
There are two wheelchair vehicles, one purchased from personal finances and one by a driver because he “thought it might be useful”. The plan for the future (subject to grants and funding) is to get a six-seater wheelchair vehicle so that people can be taken out for enjoyment. One of the existing vehicles needs some repairs and they are looking to try and raise £1,000 for this to be completed. Donations may be given by cheque (payable to Shaftesbury Car Link) or cash and left at Shaftesbury Town Hall (please place in a sealed envelope clearly marked Shaftesbury Car Link) or email for bank details for direct payments (email@example.com).
From the New Year the telephone hours will be changing so they will be contactable from 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 10am 2pm on Saturdays (07763 426664). Phone lines will be closed on Sundays to give them a break and only pre-booked medical appointments will be carried out at weekends. From the New Year any shopping and social trips must be booked in advance – same day bookings will not be taken.
Of course, none of this would happen without the dedicated team of volunteer drivers who are so highly thought of in the community and thanks go out to them. They are not just volunteers – they are now part of Martin and June’s friends and extended family. The scheme’s motto is “More than community transport”. Everyone goes that extra mile, is caring and compassionate and an absolute credit to Shaftesbury and the surrounding areas. One of their users summed them up:
“It is not just a transport service; it is a lifeline. They go above and beyond and, as their name suggests it is a link. It is a link to the support of family and a link to the support of the community.”
So, on that note, Martin and June and all the drivers at Shaftesbury Car Link wish you a very peaceful, safe and healthy Christmas and New Year and hope that Santa puts a six-seater wheelchair vehicle in their Christmas stocking!