The pictures above show Mersea Island Lions club President Mrs Christine Chamberlain receiving the keys to the bus from Chris Jeakins of H.W.Pickrell on Thursday 5th January 2017, Roy Chamberlain messing about as usual and members of the Mersea Islands Lions who collected the bus
In 1982 Ralph Lukham saw the need for a community bus for the island. He approached Harry Kell ( Pam Baldwins father ), to see if he would organise the running of this project. He also approached our Lions club to see if we could purchase a bus with Harry overseeing the bus operation. So this is how our little white bus was born.
It was sponsored by local businesses advertising their companies to help cover the running costs. Tony Balwin advertised on the rear of the bus, but because it got so dirty nobody could see it, so he moved his advertising to the side of the bus where it was promptly hit by another vehicle making Tony feel perhaps the bus advertising was not a good idea!!!!!!
Harry Kell continued to operate the Lions bus service until in 1995 he became unwell and passed away at the end of that year. During this time the Lions changed the bus twice. Harry never joined the Lions but was made an honorary Lion because of his commitment to the Bus project.
A fourth replacement bus was purchased and ran until 2011. At this time a fifth bus was purchased and ran until we replaced it with our new bus January 2017
As winter approached our present bus started to show more signs of its age – 12 years old and 110,000 miles. Following a recent article about the need to replace the bus, our own funds were very generously topped up by donations totaling £3,900 from Mersea Life readers, Mersea Town Council and East Mersea Village Hall. So the decision was taken to invest the money we had into a newer bus ( a brand new bus was still too expensive ).
The new bus is 5 years old with only 28,000 miles on the clock and has a one year guarantee. The bus can be driven on a car licence and has 17 seats, 3 more then our previous bus. Whilst we wanted to provide wheelchair access using a lift system we have as yet not provided this facility. We can provide access using ramps which are carried on the bus. Unfortunately advance notice of this requirement is needed as 4 seats have to be removed to allow one wheel chair and a second person on the bus to assist the driver in positioning the wheelchair on and off .
Our bus is not only used to transport Mersea residents to and from shopping and social club outings but can be loaned to any individual or organization for a donation to help with the running.
Drivers:- The Bus operates 5 days a week using volunteer drivers, each driver spending 3-4 hrs on their rostered day, usually mornings. Drivers are always needed, so if you have one or two days spare once a fortnight and would like to offer your services to
drive the bus, please contact The Mersea Island Lions on 01206 385822. This number can also be used to arrange a loan of the bus.
Mersea Island Lions club would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our past and present drivers for for their time and dedication whilst driving our “ Little White Bus”.
– Article and pictures by Lion Keith Bird (January 2017)