Longest serving volunteer car driver says it is 'the best thing he has ever done'

Longest serving volunteer car driver says it is 'the best thing he has ever done'

Tony and Alfie on the sofa at home

Tony Martin, from Newhall in South Derbyshire, is one of our longest serving Volunteer Car Drivers and says that joining the service is one of the best things he ever did.

The 76-year-old first became a volunteer for EMAS’ Patient Transport Services 17 years ago when he retired from being the owner of stationary company Martin Wholesale.

To keep himself busy in his retirement he signed up as a Volunteer Car Driver to help transport some of the 350 patients across Derbyshire every day who need transport to hospital appointments which they would otherwise struggle to get to.

Tony, who lives with wife of 52 years, Barbara, and their three-year-old dog Alfie, is now urging other people who live in South Derbyshire to help people in their local community by volunteering as a car driver.

He has even achieved his advanced driver certificate in his spare time to reassure all his patients that he is a very safe driver.

Tony Martin with his car

He said: “Becoming a volunteer car driver is one of the best things I ever did.

“I’ve always been a busy man so six weeks after I retired I was looking for something to do. I didn’t want to sit there wasting my life.

“I enjoy driving so my daughter suggested the voluntary car service. It gives me an objective in life and I absolutely love it.

“Being a volunteer driver in Derbyshire means I get to see some beautiful scenery which I particularly enjoy on a glorious day. My favourite drive is from Derby to Worksworth.”

Tony with paperwork folder for his role as volunteer car driver

In his 17 years of volunteering, he has taken patients of all ages to hospital appointments – from an 18-month-old baby with a brain tumour to 96-year-olds needing physiotherapy – and his favourite part of the job is meeting new people in his community.

“I like meeting lots of different people. Sometimes they can be quite anxious about going to hospital, but I can be there to reassure them, and that there will be other people in the waiting room who are in the same boat.

“With all the dialysis patients I have taken to appointments I have learnt a lot about renal failure. They have three appointments a week so you really get to know them and they will say hello if they see you in town or the supermarket.

“It’s changed a lot in 17 years and back in 2000 there were no satnavs – you were given a pile of mapbooks to find your way around. With new technology there are more chemotherapy and renal patients than when I began.

“I’ve also learnt not to take anything for granted as you never know what’s round the corner.

“If you’re thinking about becoming a volunteer driver, I would say give it a go.”

When volunteers sign up to be a driver for patient transport services, they receive a uniform and equipment, full training, and will be paid mileage of up to 60p per mile.

Tony regularly travels around 140 miles a day in his Volkswagen Touran and has even taken patients up to Leeds – but volunteers choose how far they are willing to travel.

All volunteers also get to choose how many hours a week they work. Tony began doing five days a week when he first retired but now does three days a week so he can spend more time with his wife.

Could you be a volunteer in your community? For more information please call: 0300 300 34 34 or email pts.vcs@emas.nhs.uk