Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith and The Border, on Friday formally launched the latest addition to the Eden-valley based Fellrunner minibus fleet by presenting the keys to the Chair, Mrs. Jill Hay. The new minibus was obtained through a successful bid for funding from the Government’s Community Transport Minibus Fund, a government fund available to community transport operators who wish to apply for a new minibus.

The Fellrunner bus service is a volunteer-led community service offering transport around the Eden Valley for those living in isolated and rural areas who do not have a commercial bus service available to them. Many of the users of the facility are elderly and do not have access to a commercial bus or the option of their own transport. For several, the Fellrunner service is a vital lifeline allowing people to remain living in the village of their choice whilst still retaining independence and a sense of community.

Speaking at the event, Rory said: “The Fellrunner volunteer bus service is a wonderful community-led organisation that performs an absolutely vital function for those living in our rural areas. Living in rural towns and villages has many benefits but can also be challenging for those without access to their own transport or bus service, this is why volunteer bus services are so necessary for keeping every member of our community capable of living where they choose. I am so grateful to the Community Transport Minibus Fund for supporting the Fellrunner service. This highlights how community projects can continue to thrive with the right support.”

Fellrunner Trustee Kevin McGilloway explained: “Back in 2014 the Government announced a £25million fund to provide community groups with minibuses to help offset the loss of commercial services due to the withdrawal of passenger subsidies. Fellrunner applied to the Fund but as we have been established and running bus services in the Eden Valley for over 30yrs, we did not think we had much chance of success. We applied for a low floor access minibus so that we would have two such buses in our total fleet of three. When we heard late last year that our bid had been successful it was like a lottery win for us!”

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