Wheels in motion for Bognor charity’s expansion

Driver Jacqueline  Dellar takes MP Nick Gibb for a drive in one of the SAMMY busesses.''C120053-1 Bog Sammy  Photo Louise Adams
Driver Jacqueline Dellar takes MP Nick Gibb for a drive in one of the SAMMY busesses.''C120053-1 Bog Sammy Photo Louise Adams

MP Nick Gibb has hitched a lift to highlight the expansion of a Bognor Regis transport charity.

Mr Gibb spent an hour being driven around with the passengers on the Sammy Community Transport-run vehicle.

It is one of two minibuses which Sammy has acquired after its takeover of the Dial-A-Ride charity in Chichester.

Mr Gibb, who is the MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, is the patron of Sammy.

He said: “I love Sammy, it’s one of the most important voluntary groups in the town.

“It provides a lifeline to people who, for one reason or another, can’t drive. That means they are able to get out to clubs to socialise instead of being housebound and can get to hospital appointments as well.

“The service is run in a lean way by volunteers, apart from the manager, and does not charge high fees or be part of a state-run bureaucracy.”

Sammy manager and secretary Mike Collins said: “We are keeping Dial-A-Ride going in Chichester and want to extend it into the Bognor area.

“People will be able to ring up and book a seat on one of the minibuses for where they want to go and be collected from their homes and taken back again afterwards.”

But he warned times were tough for York Road-based Sammy, founded 38 years ago, as the spending cutbacks in all sectors hit its income.

“It’s very difficult to make people understand that a transport scheme is part of the structure of charities. They accept it with services like lifeboats but not with minibuses.

“We are still getting support from people but the amounts are getting less and less and it’s harder to keep going.

“Fuel is dear and the vehicles are getting older which means they need more maintenance,” said Mr Collins.

“I’ve avoided putting up the charges for our users for the past three years because I don’t want us to become a charity only for those who can afford us.

“I want us to remain a charity for everybody.”

Sammy’s operating costs are about £100,000 a year.