A charity has put out a desperate plea for funds to save its minibus.

Marlborough-based Kennet Community Transport’s wheelchair access bus has been operating since 1990.

It brings elderly and disabled residents who would otherwise be housebound to the Jubilee and New Road centres in the town.

For four years Wiltshire Council has contract hired the minibus but this will come to an end in March.

This means the charity needs to buy a new bus ,which will cost between £30,000 and £35,000.

To raise funds Friends of Kennet Community Transport has been launched to encourage people to make a donation.

The charity, which is the only one of its kind in Marlborough, was also given a boost at Marlborough Area Board on Tuesday when it was awarded a £5,000 grant for a new bus.

Chairman Alexander Kirk-Wilson said: “It’s fantastic. I can sleep a little easier now.

“We operate on a shoestring and only have one paid member of staff, our driver Rolly [Lockey]. Without him elderly and disabled people would not get out of their houses so it would be a terrible blow if the scheme ceased to exist.”

The specially converted 17-seater bus makes about 1,000 journeys a year and operates five days a week.

Mr Kirk-Wilson said: “This is an irreplaceable service and so we need local people and businesses to come forward and help fill the funding gap.

“As well as the knowledge that you are supporting a worthwhile cause we can also include your name and logo on the side of the bus.

“Sadly one of the ladies who attended the Jubilee Centre, Maxine Blackwell, died over the weekend but the family are kindly asking for donations for the minibus in her memory.

“We will also be holding various fundraising events also to help maintain the bus.”

Roger Hagerty, Friends of Kennet Community Transport treasurer, said: “We don’t make a profit. We are a unique service in the area and if this service ceased to exist I think it would be to a great detriment to Marlborough.”

On March 30 there will be a country and sixties music evening at Marlborough Bowls Club in aid of Friends of Kennet Community Transport. The doors open at 7.30pm and tickets will be £7 on the door.

The charity is also looking for a paid driver.

If you wish to apply, forms can be obtained at the town council office in the High Street or call (01672) 513861.

A Wiltshire Council spokesman said: "In the past Kennet Community Transport have been awarded a transport grant and could be entitled to a development grant in the future. We would be happy to talk to them about future plans."