A DRIVING service that offers companionship and independence to people who can't drive celebrates its one year anniversary in Malmesbury next month.

Driving Miss Daisy is a UK-wide friendly and reliable community companion driving service with services in Malmesbury, Calne and Devizes.

The drivers provide companionship and a reliable service, not only for the elderly and disabled, but for children and anyone who is unable to drive, with aims of giving people back a sense of independence.

Helen Mistry, the Malmesbury branch franchise manager, was looking for a career change just over a year ago when she heard about Driving Miss Daisy.

"It is a driving service but it is so much more than that", she said. "It is all about companionship and driving.We can have that relationship with our clients if they want us to, but for some people it is just driving.

"I started it because I was looking for a career change. I had never thought about it but it really resonated with me. I really liked what it is doing, I liked the whole notion of how it is helping people and I can see there is a need for it.

"As you get older you get to understand people can become vulnerable, especially in rural towns like Malmesbury."

Clients can be helped with anything from trips to the supermarket for their weekly shops and doctors appointments, to even just going out for a cup of tea or a drive around the countryside.

The company's aim is to be a friendly face for clients, and a person they know they can turn to.

For a lot of the elderly clients, Mrs Mistry is someone else they can rely on, rather than friends or family, as they sometimes feel like relying on them too much they become a burden.

"It is a service based on getting to know our clients, "Mrs Mistry said. "It is for whatever they want. Some are not living near relatives and they can't look after them because they are away.

"For some people it might just be knowing that we are there or the family wanting reassurance that there is someone to call if they need to."

No two days for Mrs Mistry are the same. One day she could be helping a client on their weekly food shop, another could be preparing their food for a meal, or simply taking them out for a drive.

She said: "It is anything really. One lady hadn't seen the hedgerows for a long time so we went on a slow drive.

"Knowing you are helping people and making a difference is really powerful.

"I absolutely love it, it is so rewarding. My clients are absolutely lovely and it has been an absolute pleasure getting to know them. Knowing it is making a difference feels so good.

"But it does make me feel quite sad too, there is a degree of isolation and there are people who are really vulnerable.

"After a little bit of interaction and getting them out, you see a difference."