Volunteer driver Mary ‘thrilled’ at Chesterfield transport service return
This week marks Volunteers Week 2021, and though it’s been a challenging year for charity volunteers on many fronts, a fantastic team of volunteers are playing a huge part in providing vital access to treatment for people living with cancer in Chesterfield.
The Weston Park Cancer Charity Transport Service launched in April 2021, thanks in no small part to a team of eight drivers.
The service provides transport, free of charge, for people living in Chesterfield and the surrounding areas to and from Sheffield Hospitals for cancer treatment, taking away the potential barrier of travel – which can cause difficulty for some people when it comes to deciding whether or not to go ahead with treatment.
And, as part of #VolunteersWeek, volunteer driver Mary Platts tells us more about what it means to be providing vital access to treatment for people living with cancer.
First of all, please tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m Chesterfield born and bred and worked for 30 years as an Environmental Health Officer with Sheffield City Council, becoming the council’s first female officer when I started my training in 1972!
I transferred to Ashfield District council in 1991 before retiring in 2001. I went on to become a bus driver for Mount St. Mary’s College and due to my interest in the paperwork and operational side of things, took the position of Transport Manager when the opportunity arose. I retired (again!) from Mount St. Mary’s in 2018.
Tell us a bit about why you volunteered for the Weston Park Transport Service?
When my brother was being treated for cancer, I joined the craft club that was being run by Nenna Kind (the Chesterfield charity which previously operated the Chesterfield transport service) as it was there to support friends and family too.
I got talking to Barbara (Nenna Kind co-founder) and told her about my work driving the bus at Mount St Mary’s. She said I’d be an ideal stand-by driver for when they were short, so that’s what I became!
I was the last person to drive for Nenna Kind before the pandemic struck and the services were suspended, so I’m delighted that I am back driving again now that the service has been taken over by Weston Park Cancer Charity.
How have you found it so far – what has your experience been like?
I always enjoy interacting with the passengers and having a chat.
It fascinates me that a bus carrying people who have never met before, from all different backgrounds can be put together and get on so well.
People who have used the service before take the new passengers under their wing, explain things about the hospital to them and show them where to go, offering the chance to compare experiences with people in similar circumstances… it’s great.
What would you say to encourage others to volunteer for charities like Weston Park Cancer Charity?
If you have any skill or experience that would be of use, give it a go!
You can do as much or as little to help as you want. I think that the more of us who volunteer and do our bit, no matter how small, the better!
For more information or to find out more about volunteering for Weston Park Cancer Charity, call 0114 533 3330 or email [email protected].