The St John Health Shuttle is set to celebrate 20 years of service to the Bay of Plenty, taking people to essential medical and health-related appointments and bringing them home again.

To mark this special occasion, St John is hosting an afternoon tea for past and present drivers and their partners on Sunday August 25 from 2pm at the Tauranga ambulance complex on 17th Ave.

In July 1999 the first Health Shuttle run was made in a purpose-built Ford Courier van funded by the Mackay Strathnaver Trust, able to take both seated and wheelchair clients.

Six volunteers signed up to operate the service, the first run taking place on July 27 1999.

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Two years later fundraising began for a second Health Shuttle and in 2002 a Fiat
Ducati was purchased with donations from the Kirkby Trust and local pub charities.

Since then the vehicles have been replaced by Mercedes Sprinters, thanks to
generous donations by the McKay Strathnaver Trust and the estate of Ada Neilson,
and are installed with hoists, radios and wheelchairs.

The Bay of Plenty Health Shuttle operates throughout Tauranga, Mount Maunganui, Pāpāmoa, Welcome Bay and Pyes Pa, and is often used by older people who live alone and no longer drive, or those who are unwell and cannot access other transport options.

There is no charge for shuttle transport, however a donation is appreciated to cover costs.

The Tauranga/Mount Maunganui St John Area Committee administers the service and
funds the shortfall between operational costs and donations.

Thirty rostered volunteers, having undergone a careful selection process and training, now operate the service Monday to Friday. Bookings are essential and required at least 24 hours in advance.

Volunteers are crucial to operation of the Health Shuttle and St John is looking for
more volunteers to ensure the continuation of this much needed service. There is
tremendous satisfaction in giving time to make a difference to people in the
community.

If you want more information about the service, or are interested in joining the Health Shuttle team, contact our office on 07 5782011, or click here.

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