On a cold January day in 1967 the last passenger train left the platform at Wadebridge Station for the last time. This was the end of a romantic period which saw many coming to Cornwall by train and especially to Wadebridge and beyond. One of those who used the train frequently was Sir John Betjeman who was not only the Poet Laureate but a great advocate of transport in rural areas!
The train station today is known as The Betjeman Centre and provides a community hub; a ‘Youth Club’ for those 50+ living in Wadebridge and surrounding Parishes. Each week over 700 people make use of the various activities provided at the centre and Concern Wadebridge, a small local charity that owns the centre, works in partnership with Wadebridge U3A, The Stroke Association, Parkinson’s UK, Wadebridge Memory Café, Memory Matters, Kernow Carers, Age UK Cornwall, Cornwall Council etc. to deliver a wide range of Social and Healthcare Support. The centre is also working with Kernow CCG to deliver a Single Point of Contact for ‘Social Prescribing’, with a view to avoid medical intervention through social activities. The centre is supported by 40 volunteers who give of their time freely and in all weathers. For those using the centre the volunteers are the unsung heroes of our community.
In 2016 Concern Wadebridge developed ‘Access Wadebridge’ a community transport arm to the charity, providing wheelchair accessible minibus transport, leisure mobility and voluntary cars. The charity purchased an 04 Renault Master to initially look at the need of such a vehicle and since the Spring groups have been able to get out and about visiting places and making new friends. For many, the minibus has meant freedom and reduction in isolation, going to places where public transport is not available, coaches cannot reach, it has meant also a time of reflection, reliving memories of times gone buy.
Leisure Mobility has meant that where there was once a train, there is now a mobility scooter; for a long time the Camel Trail and all its beauty has not been available to those with little or no mobility unless they have their own scooter but now thanks to Concern Wadebridge people can hire Mobility Scooters, Wheelchairs and Mobility Aids, helping them to access Bird Hides and enjoy the beauty of the trail, it has also meant people can also enjoy what the town has to offer (We are hoping to work with Padstow Town Council and Port Isaac District Council in 2017 in placing scooters in Padstow and Port Isaac for people to use!)
Transport to Health (Voluntary Cars); living in one of the most isolated areas, getting to our one acute hospital for many is a huge problem, lack of public transport or bus connections not joining up means for many getting to an appointment is not easy, let alone trying to get home! Our Voluntary Car Service provides support to and from appointments with the driver staying with the person, supporting them through the good news as well as the bad!
Community Transport in Cornwall, reaches the parts other transport providers cannot reach, due to the rural nature of the county, it makes a difference to people’s health and well-being and for many it brings hope for a brighter tomorrow!
2017 for Concern Wadebridge will bring it’s challenges, the charity is going through a £400,000 modernisation program, which will see the old train station refurbished and a Community Café developed. New services will be provided at the centre and we will be working closely with other agencies in making sure the needs of others are met. Transport will continue to play a major role, looking at feeder transport ideas and how we support other groups in helping get people out and about!
The last train might have left the station but the station still continues to be a focal point of our community