Gearing up to keep Wheels in motion

Haydn Austin of Vountary Wheels.
Haydn Austin of Vountary Wheels.

BOSSES of a lifeline transport scheme have organised a charity event to raise cash for repairs to their bus.

A night of live music and an auction with some top prizes has been arranged to support Voluntary Wheels, which has ferried elderly and disabled residents around Hartlepool for 25 years.

Co-ordinators need to raise £8,000 for vital repairs to the bus which keeps breaking down.

The charity night will take place at South Durham Social Club, in Westbourne Road, Hartlepool, on Tuesday.

Haydn Austin, Voluntary Wheels driver co-ordinator, said: “We are hoping to raise enough money to buy a new engine, gearbox and clutch to keep us on the road.”

Band Hot Flush will perform and prizes up for grabs in an auction include two tickets to see and meet singer songwriter Paul Carrack in Newcastle and a computer.Bingo and raffles will also be held to boost the coffers.

Voluntary Wheels has provided low-cost transport to the voluntary and community sector, plus elderly and disabled residents, for the past 25 years. But the not-for-profit scheme’s 14-seat minibus keeps breaking down.

It will cost £35,000 for a new vehicle and last month Haydn, 59, made an appeal through the Mail for any businesses, groups or individuals to come forward with donations.

Three breakdowns over the past year cost £10,500 and used up cash reserves.

Hadyn, of Cornwall Street, Hartlepool, said: “Every journey I take I am constantly watching the dashboard or listening for any noises that may indicate a problem.

“The next time we break down, the bus will be off the road.

“Many people would not get to see the outside world without Voluntary Wheels.”

Over the years, 190 groups have used the service.

Almost 2,000 passengers a year use Voluntary Wheels, which is run by a group of eight volunteers, committee members and drivers.

Tuesday’s charity night starts at 7pm and admission is £1 on the door or from Haydn in advance on 07904717112.