Any more fare please? Bernie the bus banks the food collections
Bernie the community bus is more used to carrying passengers around villages in Aylesbury Vale, but during the past week, his seats have carried ‘fare’ of a different kind: much-needed groceries collected from generous village residents to keep the local food bank stocked.
Led by Buckinghamshire councillors Paul Irwin, Ashley Waite and Angela Macpherson, a team of volunteers have walked more than 35 miles, visited 12 villages and collected around 300 baskets or boxes of food and toiletries.
These are testament to the generosity of the people of Waddesdon, Berryfields, Westcott, Ashendon, Quainton, Grendon Underwood, Edgcott, Oakley, Brill, Ludgershall, Kingswood and Marsh Gibbon. They’ve been leaving groceries at the ends of their driveways for Bernie the bus to pick up.
“We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the people of the villages we’ve visited,” said Paul. “To say we are humbled would be a massive understatement! This really does make us #ProudOfBucks!
“We’ve had no end of offers of help from volunteers, and it’s only social distancing that’s prevented us from taking them all up on their kind offers.”
It all started last week (w/b 20 April) and the five-days-a-week collections will continue into next week (w/b 4 May) with the help of a pool of 26 volunteers from whom the councillors draw eight a day.
The groceries have been heading for Aylesbury Vineyard Church food bank whose stock reduced to fewer than two weeks supply owing to the coronavirus emergency. Bernie’s delivery more than doubled the stock – enough to supply 40 families a day, and the aim of Bernie’s team is to maintain the food bank’s stock.
These donations have supported a partnership between Vineyard Church and Aylesbury mosque to provide nearly 1,500 meals a week.
Paul said many residents, who weren’t able to get out to buy groceries to donate, had given cash instead: amounting to more than £800 over two weeks. Now Paul has set up Bernie’s Just Giving page for future donations https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/berniesfoodbankdrive?
Gareth Williams, Buckinghamshire Council Executive Portfolio Holder for Health and Culture, said: “We’re seeing the true generous community spirit of Buckinghamshire in full flood, and I applaud everyone who has helped to make Bernie’s hard work pay dividends for people who need our help.”