St John shuttle service gets $500 lift

By Christine McKay

Dannevirke St John Health Shuttle is a vital service for the district but can't run on the smell of an oily rag or thin air, volunteer Glennis McDonald says.

Norsewood Lions Club has pitched to help financially by donating $500, the proceeds from its scrap metal drive.

"We're encouraging other organisations to help the shuttle service out, because our community is reliant on it and the volunteers who man it," Norsewood Lions Club's Wayne Hermansen said.

"The shuttle and the volunteers make a very valuable contribution to our community and we like to make a donation every year because we know the shuttle also comes out to Norsewood to pick up passengers."

Don Stewart of Dannevirke St John said many people have the misconception the service is funded through the health system.

"That's not the case," he said. "It's not only our fuel bills, we need to find money for our road user charges and the occasional broken windscreen.

"We're now busier than ever. As well as transporting people from Dannevirke and the surrounding districts, we're also bringing people over from Palmerston North to have their ultrasound because they've been told if they want an ultrasound within three months they need to come here. However, we're very fortunate, this community is very good and supports the service and over the year we receive a number of donations."

Although the shuttle service transports patients to and from their medical appointments, the volunteers who man the service go the extra mile to help their passengers, Mr Stewart said.

"It's those little things such as taking them to collect their prescriptions, helping them inside their homes and a myriad of other small gestures which make the service what it is.

"However, despite having 40 volunteers it can still be difficult manning the shuttles, especially during the school holidays as many of our volunteers are on duty looking after their grandchildren.

"With four vehicles on the road five days a week, that's eight people giving their time each day, and three days a week the shuttle runs start at 6am in order to get patients to their appointments at Palmerston North Hospital."

In June the shuttle service won the Volunteering Hawke's Bay team excellence award.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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