Getting out and about in the North Cotswolds can be tricky.  Rural geography, highly dispersed villages and very limited public transport force many people to depend upon their cars.

Factor in the loss of a driving licence due to failing eyesight, limited mobility or the onset of dementia and getting out and about becomes even harder.

For these reasons the Community Transport Service, run for 40 years by local charity Cotswold Friends, is vital to the North Cotswolds community.

The service is supported by over 100 volunteer drivers using their own cars plus 10 volunteer bookings desk operators. The transport service operates seven days a week, 365 days a year and costs a maximum of 50p per mile.

Many people who use the service require additional support such as help with their shopping or an escort to help them to the hospital waiting room.

A familiar, friendly face is reassuring and volunteers regularly drive for the same people.

Jacqueline Newton has been driving for Cotswold Friends for four years now and said: “People could get in their car and go out and see friends and so on but then not being able to drive anymore changes their lives. 

"No longer having a car is a huge lifestyle change and we become their lifeline.  The job isn’t just the driving, the rest is listening, talking, helping and suggestions – it’s becoming a friend.”

The Cotswold Friends Transport Service has grown by almost 400 per cent since 2013 with 8,798 journeys undertaken in the 2017/18 financial year. 

Almost 62 per cent of these drives were for medical appointments including both GP and hospital visits.

This equates to more than ten round trips a day to and from GP surgeries and hospitals.

Sue Ansdell is no longer able to drive due to macular degeneration and often uses the service to get to the Eye Department at the Gloucester Royal Hospital.

She said: “The drivers have never let me down.  They always come when they say they will come, I enjoy their conversation and I hope they enjoy mine and it takes the sting out of the hospital appointment if you’ve got a lovely driver to take you and bring you home.

"Now that I can no longer drive you are an absolute lifeline.”

Patricia Batty also uses the service and says of Cotswold Friends. “One of the nice things is that because my walking balance is very precarious the drivers always come to the door with me and see me in.

I feel safe with them, safe in being looked after.  And when we get to the doctors they walk me in.  I feel that I will be cared for.”

The chief executive of Cotswold Friends, Amanda Howard, says of the transport service: “Our low cost flexible service is so important in the North Cotswolds.  The demand for journeys is growing rapidly and we desperately need more volunteer drivers in Bourton, Stow, Chipping Campden and Moreton-in-Marsh. 

"Our ageing population needs the one to one support that the Cotswold Friends Community Transport Service can offer.”

Community Transport Service manager Julie Mitchell said: “Please consider volunteering for the Cotswold Friends Community Transport Service. We need more drivers, but also booking desk operators and passenger assistants to help those needing additional support or assistance during their journey. 

"All these roles are very flexible and rewarding so do get in touch if you would like an informal chat about volunteering.  I would also like to emphasize that our transport service is open to anyone who is not able to drive or finds public transport difficult to use, so if we can help you please give us a call.”

For volunteering enquiries, contact Sheryl on 01608 697007, email or visit the website at