Hastings Dial a Ride driver nominated for local hero award

Gerald Carpenter has been nominated as a local hero
Gerald Carpenter has been nominated as a local hero

The driver of the Hastings community transport minibus has been nominated for The Best of 1066 Local Hero award.

Gerald Carpenter, 48, volunteers with Dial-a-Ride five days a week taking passengers with limited mobility to the shops or to enjoy meals with their friends.

Gerald, who started with the company in 2009, said: “I thought to myself that I can go out where I want, when I want but these people can’t.

“I believe in helping as much as I can and I know how much the passengers appreciate it as I can see it on their faces.

“Sometimes I pick up passengers so they can sit on the bus and chat with other passengers. They have no other way of getting out of the house and socialising so it’s good for them.

“This service provides them with a mobility that they just wouldn’t be able to get from a taxi service.”

Gerald said he is more than happy to give up his time every week day, as well as one Saturday a fortnight.

He added: “I often start at 10.30am and there are times when I’m not home until 5pm but I don’t mind because I’m doing it for them.

“The passengers absolutely love Saturdays. I quite often take them down to the Three Oaks pub and then maybe down to the Old Town for an ice cream.

“I have one lady who is 96 and she comes out with me on Tuesdays and Fridays. She chats to the other passengers and when we stop off we have a coffee. She loves it and it’s so nice to put a smile on her face.

“I suffer from anxiety and depression and I find it very difficult but I can get out and about. These people would really suffer without this kind of service. They would have no way of going shopping or getting out of the house.”

Gerald’s kindness has been noted by his passengers who called him their ‘road hero’.

One passenger said: “Gerald is the kindest, most helpful, most generous person. He puts himself out all the time.

“He will get shopping if you are ill.

“We all love our road hero.”

Shirley Mills, another of Gerald’s passengers, added: “Nothing is too much trouble as he ferries disabled persons to appointments and gives up his own time to take us out for dinner.”

Another passenger referred to Gerald’s transport service as the ‘chuckle bus’.

They added: “As the main driver for Dial-a-Ride, he looks after all us ‘oldies’ way and above. Just as a driver he is caring and supportive.

“Apart from the job, he takes us out for lunch every other week, all off his own back with permission.

“We are the chuckle bus.”

Another added: “He is so kind, helpful and considerate regularly giving up his Saturdays taking passengers out to lunch to avoid a possibly lonely weekend.”

• There is still time to nominate someone for a Best of 1066 Community Award. Simply email details to maria.hudd@jpimedia.co.uk by Thursday, April 18.

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