A COMMUNITY bus to transport elderly residents of isolated villages is to be launched next month.

The Little Green Bus will be unveiled in Clitheroe by Ribble Valley Mayor, Coun Richard Sherras, 12 months after a bus in the fleet was stolen.

The bus was in for repairs at Sabden Motor Bodies in Taylor Street, Clitheroe, when three men broke in and took the vehicle.

They also made off with tools from the garage.

The service provides door-to-door transport for mainly elderly and often vulnerable members of the community in the Ribble Valley and surrounding areas.

The new Mercedes Sprinter 16-seat accessible minibus was funded by grants from Ribble Valley Borough Council, Ribble Valley Homes, Yorkshire Building Society and Lancashire County Council.

Donna Atkinson, at the Little Green Bus charity, which is based on the Hawthorn Industrial Estate in Upbrooks, said: “Our drivers are all marvellous individuals who offer so much of their valuable time to helping us maintain our commitment to assisting people who, without our services, would be prisoners in their own homes.

“Our newest project is the assisted shopping scheme /access to aervices’ which supports people with illnesses such as dementia to continue to use the transport that is familiar to them.

“We have specially selected and recruited volunteers to help them whilst they are doing their shopping or attending medical and other appointments.”

Clitheroe town council leader Mary Robinson said: “It’s absolutely wonderful that a replacement has been made available.

“The despicable theft last year had a huge impact on elderly residents who live in rural locations in the borough and this new bus will be able to get them around more easily.

“The team works very hard to provide the service and I’m glad that they can put this incident behind them.

“They have managed to keep the service up and running with one less bus which is great.”

The exact date of the launch will be announced in the next few weeks. For more information on the bus or to volunteer, call 01200 444484.