Cash boost to update fleet of minibuses in community

Rio Tinto's Joanne Hannay and Pat McDonald with Les and Lynn from WATBus Community Transport.
Rio Tinto's Joanne Hannay and Pat McDonald with Les and Lynn from WATBus Community Transport.

A BEDLINGTON based community bus firm has received a £60,000 donation to update its minibus fleet and upgrade its computer system.

The money, from the Rio Tinto Legacy Fund, has given the money to WATBus Community Transport, who operate a fleet of minibuses providing a vital service to community groups, youth groups, the elderly, disabled and those living in isolated communities or on a limited income.

WATBus transport manager, Lynn McIntosh, said: “We have an ageing fleet and some of our minibuses are no longer fuel-efficient or cost effective to run.

“Cuts to public bus services in the area are leaving some residents in isolation, resulting in an increasing demand for our service.

“We are delighted our application to the Rio Tinto Legacy Fund has been successful.

“The money will be used to buy two used mini buses and upgrade our IT system to enable us to operate more efficiently and continue to meet the needs of our users.”

Many individuals and communities are reliant on the award winning WATBus service, which aims to enhance the quality of life for many through freedom of travel and access to facilities across Northumberland, Newcastle, North and South Tyneside and Gateshead.

Joanne Hannay, Rio Tinto regional economic development assistant, added: “WATBus provides a vital service in the local community.

“The Rio Tinto Lynemouth Legacy Fund has been set up specifically to support long-term, sustainable projects in the local area which will benefit communities for years to come. We are delighted to be able help them.”

Pat McDonald, assistant to the general manager at Rio Tinto’s Lynemouth site is also a big supporter of the charity. Her husband Barry, who sadly passed away in 2011, was the first volunteer driver for the WATBus ‘Newbiggin Nipper’ service.

She said: “Barry was a very kind hearted man who always put others before himself.

“He was a special person who made friends easily and he loved driving for the charity. As a family, we are pleased this donation will help WATBus continue to thrive.”