Thursday, 09 December 2021

Award for volunteer drivers who helped in pandemic

Award for volunteer drivers who helped in pandemic

VOLUNTEER drivers in Watlington have received an award from the High Sheriff of Oxfordshire for their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.

Watlington Volunteer Drivers, which started about 10 years ago, has about 30 volunteers who drive more than 100 patients to medical and other appointments.

The drivers, who are paid a mileage rate and can choose when to help out, complete about 500 to 700 journeys a year. Two members of the group received the award from the High Sheriff Imam Monawar Hussain during a ceremony in Oxford.

Nicky Smallbone, who chairs the group, said: “It was very nice to get the recognition after so many years.

“We mainly take our patients to medical appointments but we try to assist them as much as we can.

“We kept going through covid as most of our patients were vulnerable people and after the lockdowns we started taking people to their vaccine appointments. The service works really well and the people of Watlington are incredibly grateful.

“When they get picked up by our drivers, so many of them say that they wouldn’t know what to do without the service.

“We try so hard not to turn anyone down and to do as much as we can for them.”

The group received a £2,000 covid transport grant from South Oxfordshire District Council which it has to spend by March. This means patients receive their lift free of charge but they can give a donation to the group. 

Mrs Smallbone said: “We are very grateful for the grant. It means that our patients can get to their appointments for no charge but most of them still want to donate something to the group, which is so helpful to us.”

If you are interested in joining Watlington Volunteer Drivers, call 07765 154120.

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