A DRIVING service for the elderly has been granted more than £1,600 after helping people every day of the pandemic.

Didcot Volunteer Drivers which was previously known as Didcot Volunteer Centre until February 2020, has been granted £1669.25 by Didcot Town Council.

The group started in 1987 and for 20 years it has been giving Didcot residents an affordable transport service. The group helps residents get to their appointments, go shopping and pick up prescriptions.

Volunteer drivers use their own cars to take people to their appointments straight from their door and back again.

Didcot Volunteer Drivers also serves villages around Didcot to help those who are isolated away from regular transport links.

Now the service has more than 500 clients on its books and it is in need of more volunteers. About a third of the clients are over the age of 80 and the new grant money will help provide a better service.

Herald Series:

Chair of Didcot Volunteers Margaret Abbott said: “We have to prioritise medical transport because we have so few volunteers. It has been a vital service during the pandemic, but it has always been vital. There are a lot of people in Didcot who do not have any relatives who live nearby, who do not have the ability to get on the local transport because they can’t walk to the bus stop.”

Read also: Calls for dog poo dumper in South Oxfordshire village to stop

The clients contribute towards the service and charge 45p per mile for the round trip. Ms Abbott added: “It is very affordable because it works out as about half the cost of a one-way drive in a taxi and it is virtually a taxi service because it is personal transport.”

The volunteer group has a small office behind Didcot Methodist Church which is rented from the church. £1,000 of the new grant money will go towards renting the office for one year and the rest of the money will help cover their internet and telephone costs.

Ms Abbott is calling on more volunteers, but specifically more drivers and a new chair. Ms Abbott is resigning in 2022 after working at the volunteer service for more than 10 years.

Ms Abbott said: “Ideally we would like volunteers who are retired, and love driving and also have a sense of humour. “

For more information about volunteering visit www.didcotvolunteerdrivers.org.uk.

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For news updates straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on news@nqo.com or 01865 425 445.