Charity chairman awarded an MBE
Project helps organise precious day trips
TWO decades of work dedicated to ensuring people with disabilities can enjoy day trips and holidays with loved ones has earned an Ickenham man an MBE.
Richard Holland is chairman of registered charity the Barbara Bus Fund, which he joined nearly 20 years ago and has devoted his spare time to leading and growing ever since.
His award in the Queen’s birthday honours was for voluntary service to transport accessibility for people with disabilities.
The Barbara Bus Fund is a unique service providing specially adapted vehicles to individuals with disabilities; giving them the freedom to enjoy day trips, or holidays with families, which they would otherwise not be able to do.
Mr Holland lives with his wife and two daughters. He was formerly a governor of Glebe Primary School, in Ickenham, and has worked for more than 30 years in the aerospace industry for a company that provides electronic control systems.
The Barbara Bus Fund was initially started in 1968 by his aunt Barbara Werndly who, after contracting polio, was an inpatient at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital until she passed away in 1995.
The charity has a fleet of adapted wheelchair accessible vehicles, set up to enable passengers to travel without needing to transfer.
The vehicles can accommodate between one and three wheelchairs in comfort along with several able-bodied passengers, and are equipped with appropriate wheelchair restraints.
Mr Holland said: “It is an honour and surprise to have received this award. I am touched by the efforts of others who must have helped to make this happen.
“This is a great opportunity to raise the profile of the charity, which means so much to me and helps a large number of people with disabilities.”
When Mr Holland joined the Barbara Bus Fund, it had four vehicles but has developed it in recent years to increase to 10 vehicles based at RNOH Stanmore. It has also expanded to operate three vehicles in the Gwynedd region of Wales, one at the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, in Buckinghamshire, and one vehicle at Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield.
Any wheelchair user who cannot transfer themselves into ordinary cars, taxis or public transport may use the vehicles.
Users may go wherever they like for up to two weeks if they have their own driver. The driver can be a family member, friend or carer of the passenger, but must be aged between 25 and 75 and have completed the driver registration process.
The charity does not charge a set fee for vehicle use, although fuel must be replaced and donations are gratefully received to enable it to offer its services.
Volunteer drivers are often available to accommodate local journeys if the user cannot provide their own.
For more information go to www.barbarabus.com
n QUEEN’S HONOUR: Richard Holland