• Community Transport Christmas: Spelthorne Borough Council

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    • Community Transport Christmas: Spelthorne Borough Council
    • by Mike Davenport
      Spelthorne Borough Council

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    Picture the Christmas scene as it was years ago. Many of the elderly and/or disabled residents of Spelthorne who, on a weekly basis throughout the year, used Spelride, our local Dial-a-Ride, to get to their favourite Day Centre, didn’t necessarily look forward to the festive season.  They knew that their Christmas could become a very long drawn-out, sometimes a very lonely, affair.  This was in the days when, traditionally, the Day Centres, and Spelride, closed down for the whole of the Christmas holiday.

    In more recent times, things have changed for the better.  Through the willingness of staff to keep the Christmas cheer alive on the days between Boxing Day and the New Year, the Day Centres in Ashford and Shepperton now open their doors to provide company, a square meal and entertainment for those who want it.  And if they have no transport of their own, willing Spelride Drivers make sure they get there, to have a good time!

    And there’s more.  Several years ago, out of the blue, the Salvation Army Citadel in Ashford contacted the Spelride office to ask a very big favour.  Every Christmas Day the Salvation Army open their doors for a slap-up Christmas meal and a party for local residents who would otherwise be alone.  Would it be possible for a Spelride bus, and a volunteer driver, to be made available to help with transport?  Salvation Army members could organise cars for most of the 150 or so people who wanted to go, but they had no means of transporting their more disabled partygoers, particularly the wheelchair users.  This has now been the pattern of Christmas Day for two Spelride drivers for more years than they care to remember!  One drives, the other escorts, helping the passengers on and off the bus and keeping them happy.

    It’s good to know that, particularly with thanks to Spelride, the magical Christmas Spell still works in Spelthorne!

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