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Friday, 01 August 2014

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Community bus stalwart retires after 20 years

A pillar of the Wigton community is retiring after more than 20 years of voluntary work with a community bus service .

Joe Grainger photo
Joe Grainger

Joe Grainger has put his heart and soul into Wigton and District Community Transport for the past two decades.

The 73-year-old has worked in a number of jobs, including selling feed to farmers, but had to take long-term sick leave in 1990.

He then started driving the bus, which is essential to people living in rural areas, on a Tuesday afternoon.

Since then his responsibilities have swelled and the work has consumed more of his time.

But even after all these years his passion and enthusiasm for driving the community bus is clear.

Joe says: “You get some good banter off them, like the elderly people and the disabled groups.

“I have got some lovely friends in that group.

“I have worked hard to get it where it is and this is why I don’t want to just walk away from it.”

He suffers from medical problems including emphysema, which cause difficulties with his every day life.

Although he is officially leaving the group, Joe is offering his expertise to assist his successor.

He stopped driving the bus in 2010 but has still co-ordinating the service the group provides.

From having a skeleton staff when he began, the transport group now boasts a pool of up to six drivers, and Joe knows others who he can call on in an emergency.

One driver is so dedicated that even after working a night shift, he will turn up at 9am to drive the bus as normal. “He doesn’t sleep a lot, ” says Joe. “He does all the maintenance for the bus and he’s absolutely brilliant.

“When you have got people like that working with you, that’s why you want to keep going.”

For Joe, one of the most fulfilling moments was receiving Wigton’s Citizen of the Year award in 2010.

“I have got grandkids and they thought it was the bee’s knees,” he said.

Former Wigton publican Wes King, 71, has known Joe for about a decade.

After Wes retired he needed something to fill his time and began driving the bus.

He said: “He’s absolutely fantastic and he divides his time.”

“He’s always good for a chat and whenever you have a problem with the bus you just give him a ring.

Anyone interested in taking up the Wigton and District Community Transport co-ordinator position can contact Joe on 016973 43093.

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