Maiden Newton Country Car Service comes of Age

Maiden Newton Country Car Service comes of Age

On January 2nd 2022 the Maiden Newton Country Car Service will celebrate 25 years of providing transport to appointments at hospitals, doctors’ surgeries including vaccinations, dentists, chiropodists, opticians, and visits to relatives in hospital for those who have no other means of transport. 

Back in 1996 Maiden Newton was one of the two areas of West Dorset asked to take part in the Local Agenda 21 Project. As part of this, every household was asked to fill in a questionnaire to find out what facilities the village needed. One of the findings was that

of the difficulties many residents had to find transport to get to medical appointments. It was suggested to the Parish Council that these could be provided by opening a branch of   the County Council’s Country Cars scheme which at that time supported a large number of branches across the County with the necessary background administration. This covered the arranging of public liability insurance, the carrying out of recruitment checks, provision of drivers’ record keeping books and the payment of additional monies to cover the miles driving to/from clients. The Officers also suggested that the area covered be expanded to include surrounding parishes. The Parish Councils were consulted and so was Dr Wiley.

At a public meeting that September attended by officers from DCC and chaired by the Chair of Maiden Newton Parish Council, the late Vernon Holleyoak, I agreed to become the Booking Secretary whilst Vernon recruited drivers.

About 7 years ago the County decided to withdraw their support for these schemes and the majority became independent under the Neighbour Car model. Two schemes in West Dorset (Maiden Newton and Beaminster) appealed against the decision requiring us to go independent and, as of today, continue to receive this support from Dorset Council.

The area covered by the Maiden Newton Scheme is still basically the catchment area of Greenford School and includes Compton Valence, West Compton, Wynford Eagle, Frome Vauchurch, Toller Fratrum, Toller Porcorum, Kingcombe, Hooke, Chilfrome, Cattistock, Frome St Quintin and Wraxall. Since the loss of the 212 bus route, we also look after patients, registered at the Pound Piece Surgery, from Frampton and Sydling St Nicholas.

Sue Wreford, now from Toller Porcorum, is the only original driver from the 1997 team still driving. I should like to thank Sue and all the other volunteers who have driven, and those who are now driving for the Scheme, over the past 25 years. There are more than 100 of them – thank you everyone for your support. I should have liked to continue to be one of this team but I now have a pacemaker. The DVLA have returned my driving licence but insurance companies do not insure volunteer drivers with pacemakers.

I should also like to thank Mary Smith and Rachael Clark who, in turn, have taken over responsibility for the bookings. We now have over 80 clients on our books who made

159 journeys between April and the end of September this year. I hope to continue to help when Rachael is ill, or away, by taking the bookings yet again but we need more drivers.

And finally to John Ball (320522), our Treasurer and main contact with Dorset Council. Thank you John for all your support.   If anyone feels that they would like to volunteer to become a driver, please contact either John or me.

Sally Falkingham (320969)