A volunteer driver who has clocked up thousands of miles helping people keep their independence has retired from the service.
Dennis Crack, 70, has been a volunteer driver for the Dial a Ride service in Bury St Edmunds for four and a half years.
Dial a Ride helps people, such as the elderly, those with mobility problems and the socially and rurally isolated, get around.
This week, The Voluntary Network, which runs the service, launched an urgent appeal for more drivers and assistants.
It is currently struggling to find volunteers in the Bury St Edmunds area, with Dennis leading the call–to–arms.
“I have throughly enjoyed my time working forDial a Ride and got to know a lot of people who regularly use the service,” said Dennis, from Bury St Edmunds.
“For some it is a vital lifeline to maintain their indpendence and we take people wherever they want to go from hospitals to visting friends and shopping.
“My minibus licence has now expired having turned 70 but I will be staying on as a passenger assistant for three half–days a week to ensure the service keeps running.
“I’d urge other voluteers to come forward as the service is important to so many people.”
Dial a Ride carries out over 5000 passenger journeys a year within a 10 mile radius, in and around Bury St Edmunds.
It also operates within other areas in the St Emundsbury and Forest Heath regions.
A network of 40 volunteers helps run the Bury Service.
Three minibuses make around 25 journeys each day for individuals and groups.
A People Carrier also provides group travel.
Bury St Edmunds Dial a Ride has around 400 members and has been operating for around 25 years.
“We are starting to struggle for volunteers to cover three vehicles per day,” said Jackie Laurie, co-ordinator for the Bury office.
“We need at least another dozen volunteers to act as both drivers and assistants to help the service running smoothly.
“For many, Dial a Ride is a vital lifeline and helps people access local services to maintain their highly valued independence.”
It costs £10 register and journeys cost up to £3.80 for a each journey.
Julie Ruddock, 56, and her husband, Steve, also 56, have used the service for three years.
“Steve suffered a stroke three and a half years ago which meant he could only get around in a wheelchair,” said Julie, from Bury St Edmunds.
“The service has been a Godsend for us and we use it three times a aweek to go to two stroke groups and also swimming on a Friday.
“A return journey costs us £2.80 compared with around £15 in a taxi so we hope it can continue as it is.”
Anyone interested in volunteering as either a driver or assistant should call 01440 712028 and press option 1.
Drivers must hold a d1 Category on their licence and all volunteers are provided with training and are DBS checked.
It is supported by Suffolk County Council.