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Lifeline bus service in drive for public votes

Posted on July 26, 2017

A fleet of minibuses buzzing around the streets of Great Yarmouth provides a lifeline for people like Bill and Cathie Pike. Without the service, run by charity Centre 81, the car-less couple in their 80s would be unable to get out and about for shopping, social and medical trips.

Now they are backing a drive for public votes to earn Centre 81 a bigger slice of a charity pot for the door-to-door community buses, which are used by 500 regular passengers, for whom it is an affordable, fully-accessible transport service.

The Centre, which also runs an activities and skills hub at its Tar Works Road headquarters, is one of six Norfolk finalists in contention for a share of a national £3m pot marking the 300th anniversary of the Freemasons. They will all get a grant ranging from £4,000 to £25,000 – with the final sum boosted by a public vote whose deadline is looming at the end of the month.

Cathie, 81, and Bill, 84, from Bradwell, have both lodged their votes. She said: “Bill has been in a wheelchair for six years ago. He gave up driving and we gave up the car. I cannot push him so the Centre 81 bus is a god send – we could not manage without it.”

The couple are both retired care home workers – a chef and nurse – so they know the value of the service.

Cathie added: “We have been married 48 years and do everything together. The Centre 81 bus service enables us to still do that.”

Centre 81 aims to use its grant to help with core costs or towards a replacement bus for the 10-strong fleet which operates across the borough.

Chief executive officer Diana Staines said: “Our community bus service helps a whole range of people with transport needs, not just the elderly and infirm. Without it people can be isolated, lonely and find it harder to live fulfilling lives.”

Voting in the national Freemasons Community Awards runs until July 31. To vote for Centre 81 visit mcf.org.uk/vote or call Jackie James on 01493 852573.

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