Big Lottery funds Holbeck Elderly Aid’s new Minibus

Trustees and volunteers of Holbeck Elderly Aid unveiled their brand new bespoke mini bus to the community on Friday (16 October 2015). Thanks to the Big Lottery Fund, Holbeck Elderly Aid has received a more modern and advanced wheelchair accessible vehicle.

This is similar to their other minibus, (the same colour) 16 seat capacity. However, the VW Crafter CR50 4325 m/m wheelbase maxi high roof minibus conversion, seats two wheelchairs comfortably on the rear wheel arches with more space for maneuverability, ease and access.

Service user Anne Hopper says’ ‘It’s a dream come true!’

Made at Standford Coachworks in Essex, the bus was brought up to Stoke on Trent and then driven personally by David Hardacre, north representative and salesperson in time for the presentation. Elissa Newman said “We went with three quotes but after exhausting David with our preferences which had to be right for our service users we felt there was no need to pursue the other companies.”

David was proud to demonstrate the Stanford features including the side sliding door and original pull down step with high visibility hand rail for the partially sighted. The luxury continues inside; the seats have high visibility head rests which can be used as hand rails to assist walking down the aisle of the bus. Upholstered seating covers which can are cool in summer and warm in the winter compliment the climate control air conditioning complete with a stereo surround music system.

The special features don’t stop there! Along with three mirrors there is also a colour camera to help the drivers with reversing. Also, when the rear doors are opened to operate the wheel chair lift there are further safety light on the roof. The minibus including the floor has been tested and designed to handle more weight, meeting current regulations and legislation.

The new bus arrives just as the season is starting to get busy. It will compliment their other minibus which will still be in used and rented out as usual to other services in the area including the neighbourhood network. The minibus will transform the experience of the service users who will now travel in comfort and style. The minibus is crucial to the service Holbeck Elderly Aid provides to the community. Helping to improve the transport means breaking down barriers some service users face. Providing a safe and secure mode of travel will make this more accessible to the more vulnerable and isolated members of the community.

Rt Hon Hilary Benn cut the ribbon in Balm Walk on Friday, saying;  “We want to thank the Big Lottery for providing the money, but most importantly celebrate the fact that your members are going to travel in style and comfort, may god bless this bus and all who are driven around in her. I declare this minibus well and truly open!”

(I’ve never cut a ribbon on a bus before. There’s a first time for everything Hilary!)



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