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Thames Mobility Vehicle Inc members Phil Hankins, left, Thelma Chantrey and Clyde Beaufill. Photo: SUPPLIED

St John’s health shuttle upgraded

A new Hato Hone St John Thames shuttle bus to transport members of the community to medical appointments and social gatherings has hit the streets.
The van, called Trixie, was officially blessed at St John Thames station on October 29 by the new St John Chaplain, Reverend Brendon Wilkinson.
Hauraki-Coromandel community engagement co-ordinator Nikki Tyrrell-Baxter told The Profile a new van was needed because the previous van was no longer deemed roadworthy.
“Back in 2017, we were given a Toyota mobility vehicle from the Thames Mobility Vehicle Inc group and it came with a sum of money that we were able to use to help fund the existing vehicle and to replace it when it was no longer fit for purpose,” she said.
“So we’ve bought a beautiful new Toyota Hiace van, which has wheelchair accessibility and a hoist, and it’s on the road, blessed and dedicated to transporting the community.”
Nikki said funds from the Thames RSA Welfare Trust and the estate of Mr Joseph Verhaegen were also used to purchase the new van.
“We are very grateful to have the support of our community in making such initiatives possible as we wouldn’t be able to fund a replacement vehicle, and the maintenance costs to keep it on the road, without such donations,” she said.
“We had a lot of people from within St John attend the dedication including our volunteer health shuttle drivers who give their time and energy so generously transporting members of our community.
“Thames has over 30 volunteer drivers who put their hand up to help, even on Christmas Day transporting people to attend ‘A Place at the Table’ Christmas lunch.”
Nikki said St John Thames chose not to disclose the total van cost.
Nikki said Thames Area Committee Chairman Ken Brokenshire and Commander of the St John Order and Thames Area Committee member Bruce McDonald assisted the Reverend with the blessing.
“Mr Brokenshire acknowledged the community’s support and the long relationship held between St John, the Thames Mobility Vehicle Inc and the RSA Welfare Trust,” she said.
“Mr McDonald commented that while the government contributes significantly towards the ambulance service, the remaining community programmes rely heavily on community support and our St John volunteers.”