The WPH Charitable Trust has awarded £500 to Harbury e-Wheels, an organisation started by HEI and now separate.

Working closely with organisations such as local schools, churches, doctors’ surgeries, children’s centres, hospital departments and local authority children’s teams, Harbury e-Wheels serves people of all ages who have been referred for help with transport

Co-ordinators of the free service say the money will help pay for the hire costs of Harbury e-Wheels’ regular cars for a month, benefiting dozens of residents in the village and surrounding area in that time.

Hiring two electric Renault Zoe cars from the Harbury branch of E-Car Club at a cost of around £8,000 a year, Harbury e-Wheels serves any resident within a 15-mile radius of the middle of Harbury.

It is staffed by a team of 22 volunteers, some of whom double up on roles within the organisation. There are 12 drivers, six co-ordinators, seven board members and an administrator.

With no salaries, vehicle maintenance, repairs or general running costs to consider the service is free to residents although donations are regularly offered and accepted.

Bob Sherman founded Harbury e-Wheels with fellow resident Hugh Tottle in November 2015. Since then demand has continued to spiral as locals deem the service an excellent alternative to car ownership. In 2017 700 trips were made for 152 passengers – completing 1,320 hours of free transport. During the first full year the average number of hours per month was 50 to 60 but this has now more than doubled.

The service is open to anyone of any age and from all walks of life, although young people under 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.  Bob said: “We mainly get elderly people who might not be able to make the quarter-mile walk to the doctors’ surgery, but we also have single parent families – often young mums – who are looking at courses, training or counselling. 

“We may also take people to court cases or job centres and there are also a lot of people who come to us with temporary difficulties, such as a broken arm or an operation. People of all ages use us for such a wide range of reasons, especially with fewer buses serving Harbury year on year and with many people in the area who are on low incomes and unable to afford regular, lengthy bus trips.

“It has proven to be such a popular service that we try to limit people to one round journey a week unless there are exceptional circumstances.”

Bob issued his thanks to the WPH Charitable Trust.

He said: “There is no doubt we could not run Harbury e-Wheels without donations such as the £500 from the WPH Charitable Trust. It is an extremely generous amount and we are most grateful to the Trustees. The money will be of great benefit to many people not only in our village but in the wider community.”

David Holt, Chairman of the WPH Charitable Trust, said: “Harbury e-Wheels is a fantastic cause serving many residents in and around the area who might otherwise be stranded. 

“We are delighted to be able to support the cause which provides a lifeline for people in their everyday lives – simple things such as attending a hospital appointment are made all the more easier thanks to Harbury e-Wheels.”

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