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Forres community service the Osprey Bus needs bookings and volunteers

By Garry McCartney

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Osprey Trust chairman Shaun Moat and FACT development manager Debbie Herron are taking bookings for the bus.
Osprey Trust chairman Shaun Moat and FACT development manager Debbie Herron are taking bookings for the bus.

A FREE community transport service is ready for more bookings as the country returns to ‘the new normal’.

The Osprey Bus, founded in 1973 to provide free transport to the elderly, infirm and disabled, as well as children, is now using Forres Area Community Trust (FACT) for bookings and a Covid cleaning kit, including a plug-in fogger, to make the bus safe to use.

Trust chairman, Shaun Moat, confirmed the vehicle has 12 seats plus room for a wheelchair user.

He said: “We would like it to be used more. It doesn’t need to be a weekly booking – it might just be a one-off such as when we supported Dyke Primary School with their end of year trip to bowling in Elgin.”

More recently, the bus has been used to transport young people to Forres Nairn and District Riding for the Disabled at Burgie.

“As we have a section 19 permit, we can’t hire the vehicle out,” said Shaun. “It can only be used by groups that fit the charity’s purpose and is operated on a recommended donation of 50p per mile.”

There are currently around 16 available volunteer drivers.

“We need more people to come forward,” said Shaun. “They don’t need to have minibus on their licence and full training is provided before driving the bus. We are also looking for more people to come onto the board of trustees. We need people to help with finance, marketing, fundraising etc. The more people we have on the board, the better the ideas and services we can offer. We currently meet bi-monthly via Zoom.”

The Osprey Bus is maintained by Wilmac Garage on the Greshop Industrial Estate and kept in a garage at the back of Forres House Community Centre.

Shaun said: “Wilmac only charge us for parts and donate any necessary labour time. This saves us a lot of money. Booking is via FACT – one point of contact is easier for management.”

The bus can be booked by calling 01309 674 388 or by emailing info@forresarea.org, marking the email Osprey Bus Booking.

FACT development manager Debbie Herron confirmed someone will reply with confirmation.

She said: “During lockdown, the bus was used by FACT and Moray Food Plus to distribute food and supplies across the area to those who were shielding or vulnerable. Our aim is to make it easier for people to book now. Following on from this pilot we are hoping that people will be able to see its availability online in due course.”

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer driver or joining the Osprey board should email shaun@forresospreybus.co.uk

More information is available at www.forresospreybus.co.uk and the Osprey Bus Facebook page.

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