Bus scheme marks its first year in action

A COMMUNITY bus set up by volunteers has celebrated its first anniversary – but with a sombre feeling.

Newbiggin Nipper – run twice a week by volunteers at WATBus Community Transport – recently celebrated its first anniversary.

And the scheme is being used as a model elsewhere.

WATBus transport manager Lynn Mcintosh said: “Over 3,500 customers travelled on the Nipper in the first year, and 30 UK transport experts have visited Newbiggin to experience this unique local community service in action.

“It has become a role model for other community transport schemes in the UK.”

Initial volunteer drivers were Jim Davenport and Barry McDonald, but on November 1, Barry passed away, and is proving a miss among colleagues and customers.

Before his death, he said: “Every time I take the minibus out, I get a great sense of satisfaction by helping people to get out and about.

“It really is a valuable link for the community.”

A collection is being held for St Oswald’s Hospice, who were a great support to Barry and his family.

A fundraising and social evening will take place on Friday, December 9, at Bank House Social Club in Newbiggin, which will include live music, disco and dancing.

Tickets are on sale for £3 at the club and Dawn’s Flower Shop. For more information, contact (01670) 851896.