GP surgery transport scheme is saved after councillors provide funding

Left to right: Dr Graeme Norris with John Griffiths, Anthony Ryle, Simon Brown, Andrew Smith, Carol

Left to right: Dr Graeme Norris with John Griffiths, Anthony Ryle, Simon Brown, Andrew Smith, Carol Bull and Jim Thorndyke Picture: ST EDMUNDSBURY BOROUGH COUNCIL - Credit: Archant

A voluntary scheme which offers transport to a rural west Suffolk health centre will now be able to continue after five councillors “answered a call for help”.

The scheme, run by Ixworth Patients’ Association, helps people who use Ixworth GP Surgery and five St Edmundsbury borough councillors have all contributed towards the volunteer drivers’ expenses.

Borough council leader John Griffiths, for Ixworth and Ixworth Thorpe, donated £500, with Simon Brown, for Pakenham, Andrew Smith, for Bardwell, Jim Thorndyke, for Stanton, and Carol Bull, for Barningham, all donated £250 from their locality budgets.

Mr Griffiths said: “Being a predominantly rural borough these locality grants can have a terrific influence on quality of life for all our residents.

“Ixworth and the surrounding villages are pretty independent communities, blessed with residents who tend to see a need and get personally involved in organising a response.

“I believe one of the best things is supporting the effort people put into community life and I am delighted that all our councillors are able to support them, both in their own areas, and cross-boundary, as in this case.”

Graeme Norris, chairman of Ixworth Patients’ Association said: “Established in 1988, our patient association is one of the first and oldest in the country, which I believe demonstrates the willingness local people have to help one another, and I pay tribute to Sybil Kruger who has coordinated the transport service for over 20 years and all our volunteer drivers.

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“Recently though we have struggled to cover the volunteers’ cost per mile, which is why I am delighted that our ward councillors have answered our call for help.”

Mr Smith of Bardwell ward, who is a member of the Ixworth Patients’ Association, said: “Graeme Norris came to parish council meetings in the area to put the case for the scheme, which serves an aging rural population with increasing health needs and fewer transport options.

“They are very well served by the poly-practice surgery, and this scheme equally supports our dedicated medical professionals.

“My fellow St Edmundsbury borough councillors immediately saw the value our funding brings, allowing the admirable local volunteer drivers to continue the scheme.”

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