Devon County Council Community Transport Awards for the Exe Valley Market Bus

    Building on the successes of previous years, in 2018 Simon Edwards not only won a Devon Community transport Volunteer Award, he was named as the Volunteer of the Year for 2018!



    Simon's nomination confirmed that he has been a volunteer driver for over eleven years and is currently also Maintenance Officer and Driver Examiner.  He was our Driver Trainer for many years bringing his experience as a retired police officer to ensure that all, including the drivers themselves, had full confidence in their abilities as part of a supportive team offering a great service to our passengers.  A popular driver with the passengers, nothing is ever too much trouble for Simon in making their journeys a pleasure.  He is greatly respected by all fellow drivers, passengers and committee members.

    In Summer 2017 Ann Roberts, our secretary, won one of three 'Volunteer Enabler' awards at the Devon County Council Community Transport Award Ceremony at County Hall. This continuing recognition by the Local Authority of the valuable contribution made by our bus and its volunteers to our local community is particularly welcome as we celebrate 40 Years of Service of the Exe Valley Market and Community Bus!



    The Exe Valley Market Bus had a good year in 2014!  Not only did we receive a very generous grant to buy a new bus at the end of 2013 which has proved very popular with our passengers and drivers but, at the 2014 Devon County Council Community Transport Awards, our chairman, Colin Radford, won one of six Community Transport Volunteer awards and the Community Transport Volunteer of the Year Award for his many years involvement with the Bus as a driver, driver-trainer, committee member and most recently as chairman as well as managing the treasuring job when it became necessary for a while, AND The Exe Valley Market Bus Service won the ‘Best Contribution to the Local Community’ Award and £500!

     

    Colin’s nomination stated that since the early days he has been a volunteer driver for the regular routes, for the ‘First Wednesday’ monthly outings and for community hire of the bus and what’s more, in his 70’s he still is!  Colin’s grounded and common sense approach, together with his natural charm and sense of fun has made for a tightly run voluntary team which has much wider social benefits to the community than just the provision of transport.

    The Exe Valley Market Bus Committee are particularly delighted and proud that the nomination for their award came from the Chairs of Oakford, Stoodleigh, Washfield and Knowstone Parish Councils, reflecting the appreciation of the Bus, and all the volunteers over so many years, in the parishes that it serves.

    The nomination said that for more than 35 years the Exe Valley Market Bus has sustained a vital community bus service for the isolated communities lying between Oakford and Tiverton, providing a link to their market town.  The service is recognised as being a mainstay of the local community and is a lifeline for residents without transport, as well as providing social contact.  Run, driven and maintained entirely by volunteers, the bus runs twice weekly services to shops, hospital and dentist.  There are well supported monthly outings to events and venues in Devon and further afield, organised by the committee and the bus is frequently hired by local groups for personal use, including to visit Exeter Chiefs!

    Recently, the committee has extended its service to South Molton and Barnstaple, in conjunction with Knowstone Parish Council in North Devon, increasing passenger numbers, volunteer drivers and support.  The new service has enabled several elderly residents of Knowstone to remain in the village.

    The bus travels over 10,000 miles a year and thanks to fundraising by the group, donations from community groups and Parish Councils and a substantial grant from DCC, a new bus has been purchased to replace the previous aging one.  However, the dedication and hard work must continue to maintain the service, without which the isolation felt by many residents in this remote part of Devon would be much greater.

    The Exe Valley Market Bus is now running its 5th bus since the original Rutex scheme started in 1977 and we hope to continue for many more years and be there for many more passengers in the villages for our scheduled route trips to town as well as the monthly outings and community hire.