Volunteers needed for community bus scheme

Helen Burton test drives Cuckmere community bus SUS-160323-163649001

Helen Burton test drives Cuckmere community bus SUS-160323-163649001

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A Pevensey campaigner and parish councillor is calling on people to volunteer to drive the Cuckmere Buses after taking a test drive herself.

Helen Burton, who lives in Pevesney Bay and write a ethical lifestyle column in the Herald, got behind the wheel of one of the Cuckmere community buses at the Hailsham Farmers Market.

The community bus scheme has been running for 40 years and is a lifeline to people without cars living in the rural communities surrounding Eastbourne. It is a voluntary organisation based in Berwick and established in 1976 with the assistance of East Sussex County Council and Southdown Motor Services Ltd (The local National Bus Company subsidiary).

Helen said, “The Cuckmere Bus really does provide a brilliant service, especially to older people.

“It makes all the difference and means they are able to get out and about, and as a result feel less isolated.”

With generous support from East Sussex County Council, Cuckmere Buses has worked in close partnership with the local communities including parish councils to develop its network of local bus routes so that today it operates a fleet of seven 16-seat modern fully accessible low floor minibuses on 14 local bus services serving many local communities.

Helen said, “People don’t realise you can drive these buses on an ordinary driving licence. This means most people could volunteer but not many people realise that.”

Helen has tried driving the buses herself in a bid to raise awareness for the cause.

She said, “It was great fun driving a Cuckmere Bus and I think it’s a wonderful volunteering opportunity. I’m used to driving a small, automatic, electric car so driving a bus was very different. It was surprisingly easy to handle once I’d remembered what a clutch was.”

Helen says a similar scheme, also aimed at getting elderly people out to lunch clubs and senior forums, has been started in Pevensey.

Helen said, “We also need drivers for the Pevensey Community Support bus, the more drivers available, the more activities we can arrange.”

Helen has also set up a website to help match people with their perfect volunteering role. Visit www.pevenseyvolunteers.co.uk or call 07990 751469.

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