A team of dedicated volunteers who provide an important lifeline for patients across Tayside have celebrated their 10th anniversary.
The crew from the charity St John Scotland give up their own time to drive cancer and dialysis patients from all over Angus, Dundee and parts of Perth are Kinross to Ninewells Hospital and Arbroath Infirmary for treatment.
A celebration of their work was held in Dundee’s City Chambers on Wednesday, with Lord Provost Ian Borthwick among the VIPs thanking them.
The current team of 21 volunteer drivers are on the road six days a week and complete more than 150 patient journeys every month.
Last year alone, they collectively covered 83,000 miles — the equivalent of driving from Dundee to Moscow and back 18 times.
Bill Harvey, who volunteered for nine years before retiring last summer, said: “It’s the most valuable experience I have ever had. I first signed up as a driver when my wife, Mary, was going through treatment for cancer and I saw a leaflet about the service at the GP.”
Mr Harvey clocked up an estimated 83,000 miles during his years as a volunteer.
BLACK FRIDAY OFFER: Two years of unlimited access to The Courier Digital — at better than half price!
He added: “I knew from what Mary was going through how difficult the travelling was. She was having radiotherapy five days a week for six weeks, and although the treatment itself was short, doing so much travelling was hard.
“The first patient I picked up was terrified of starting her own treatment, but I was able to share what my wife had been through and reassure her about what it was like — she took great comfort from that.”
Sandra Penman, from Carnoustie, has been benefiting first-hand from the work of the volunteers, having used the service for two years. She was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2010.
The 81-year old, who requires dialysis three times a week, said: “The same drivers pick me up each week and we have a good chat in the car on the way to Arbroath, and they are always very nice and helpful.
“We’re very fortunate to have this service, they always go out of their way to help if there are any difficulties with transport arrangements for patients.”
Angus Loudon, St John Scotland’s executive director, congratulated the volunteers on their 10th anniversary.
“The dedicated team is a shining example of the inspiring things that can be achieved by volunteers,” he said.
“We’re incredibly proud that this group make such a difference in their community, selflessly giving up their own time to provide a lifeline for local patients.
“They go out of their way to make life easier for people who are facing tough treatments.”
As well as driving patients to appointments, St John Scotland also supports volunteer first responders across Angus, assisting the Scottish Ambulance Service during emergencies in their local area.