There’s much to be said for the idea that our members are the unsung heroes of the transport world. Every day, buses, minibuses, cars and scooters are traveling the roads of the United Kingdom providing accessible and inclusive transport to those who otherwise would have none. It’s always pleasing, then, when the work of one of our members is recognised and applauded. This was recently the case with Edwina Edwards, Chief Executive of Bakewell and Eyam Community Transport (BECT) who was awarded an MBE for her services to the Derbyshire community.
As with our members across the country, BECT’s vision is to offer caring, safe, flexible and efficient transport for people of all ages. They work with those who are disadvantaged by location, need, personal circumstances or social deprivation. A key principle for BECT, and for Edwina, is to encourage and facilitate voluntary participation in community activities: their service is run with the help of 47 staff and 149 volunteers.
Edwina’s MBE, awarded in this year’s New Year’s Honours List, is an accolade which is extremely well deserved. We asked Edwina what motivates her to keep providing services to the people of Derbyshire and she told us that the residents in rural areas are incredibly disadvantaged when it comes to public transport, with many having no access to public transport at all. It is vital, she believes, that everyone regardless of their circumstances have the same opportunities to live an independent, dignified, life with as much choice as possible.
Reflecting on her successes, Edwina told us that her biggest achievement to date is delivering a petition signed by over 20,000 people on behalf of community transport users opposing the proposed cuts to transport services. This reflects the CTAs belief that our members are continually being asked to do more with less. In line with this, Edwina pointed out that the biggest challenge facing BECT right now is managing the proposed £85,000 reduction in funding for their Dial a Bus shopping services, without adversely affecting local people.
Edwina shared with us that she believes there is more national and local governments can do to support the CT sector. Government, she argues, should work with community transport operators and the CTA to pilot transport solutions that have worked elsewhere in the country, particularly in providing services that meet the needs of vulnerable and isolated people.
In addition to her tireless work at BTEC Edwina is also a trustee for 2 local charities, Chair of Peak District National Park Local Access Forum and a leader and trainer for Girl guiding. In the limited spare time she has, Edwina enjoys listening to music, playing squash, running, cycling, swimming and walking.
“I am truly honoured to receive this award,” said Edwina, “but I do not believe I am any different from anyone else who wants to help people live a better life whether they are young or old. Community Transport is central to that belief which is why I feel that it’s so important that services are available to help local people.”
It really is wonderful to see hard working members like Edwina get the recognition they deserve, and at the CTA we will continue to fly the flag for the incredible work that community transport does day in and day out. If you know of someone making a difference through community transport in your community email James at James@ctauk.org.