Weston Community School pupils holding a cheque from West Wight parish councils, from left, Oliver Flanders, 11, Jessica Chandler, 11, Kyle Gibbs, ten, and Lea Clark, ten. Back, from left, Freshwater Parish Cllr Andy Sutton, Yarmouth Parish Cllr Sylvia Mence, Totland Parish Cllr George Cameron, IW MP Andrew Turner, local transport minister Norman Baker, IW High Sheriff Suzie Sheldon and chairman of Totland Parish Council, Cllr Carol Bryan.
A TWO-year project to introduce a community bus into the West Wight was unveiled on Wednesday.
Norman Baker, under-secretary of state for transport, regions and communities, Island MP Andrew Turner, Isle of Wight High Sheriff Susie Sheldon and county and local councillors attended the event, at Freshwater Memorial Hall and the Sports Centre.
Mr Baker said: "This sort of community service helps to liberate people and change their lives.
"It goes out to areas where there is a need
but would not be operated by a commercial service.
"The Isle of Wight was given a £48,002 grant last year to support these sort of services in the future and I can confirm it will happen again this year.
"It shows the tremendous value of groups coming together to help their communities."
The bus was the idea of Michael Craig and Adrian Harris. Volunteers run two routes from Freshwater, Totland and Colwell and Yarmouth to Freshwater Bay.
Mr Craig said: "It’s been a long journey but we have been so lucky to be backed by our local councils, the Isle of Wight Council, Natural Enterprise
and the Island’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
"This is a bus which goes places where no other buses go to."
Mr Harris added: "We have 47 volunteers but need more.
"Since we started running the buses on December 5, we have had 791 passengers, so hope to make the 1,000 target in the next week.
"We started this journey two years ago and the bus has finally parked outside."
A cheque for £19,450 was presented to FYT by members of the three local councils at the Memorial Hall.
These included Cllr George Cameron (Freshwater), Cllr Sylvia Mence (Yarmouth) and Cllr Carol Bryan (Totland) at the Memorial Hall before the councillors, who also included Isle of Wight councillors John Howe, Stuart Hutchinson and Andy Sutton, were driven to the sports centre in the buses.
After Mr Baker cut the ribbon to officially launch the routes, he was interviewed by four children from Weston Community School, Oliver Flanders, Jessica Chandler, Kyle Gibbs and Lea Clark, as part of a journalism project.
Video by Joe Briscoe