COMMUNITY bus driver Alan Coggins has been recognised in the New Year Honours list and will receive a British Empire Medal for his voluntary work.

Mr Coggins, who lives in Marden, not only drives the bus but helps passengers carry their shopping from door to door and provides social trips to combat loneliness in older people.

He has been involved in the Combine Community Bus service since 2003 and became chairman in 2005.

The bus provides regular trips for people from from 11 villages near Marden, including Alton Barnes, Woodborough and Manningford Bruce.

Weekly visits to shops in Marlborough, Devizes and Salisbury help people in rural communities get their food shopping done, with a door to door service.

The volunteer has been recognised in the New Year honours and will receive his award from the High Sherriff of Wiltshire before attending a garden party in the summer with his wife.

Mr Coggins, 69, said; “I am pleased as punch, it came totally and utterly out of the blue. Only my wife knows, when I got the letter I was quite choked up so she had to see what was going on. We get our thanks from our passengers, but I am grateful for the recognition.

“We are like a little club and community. If drivers go past a house and that person doesn’t come out they want to know if they are ok because they are worried they might be ill.

“I am very much still a driver. Sometimes I am driving up to four times a week. We all know each other and are friends.

“We do have an excellent regular bus service to our villages, but some people struggle to carry their shopping from the bus stop to door step, a lot of our ladies are over 80. So we are an extra service for them.

“Four of our regulars are sister and sisters in law so they use the bus as a way to catch up.”

The bus is funded through grants from Wiltshire Council and is also rented out to other local charities.

A Monthly mystery trip is also run and has involved trips to the seaside and other tourist destinations.

Combine Community Bus provides transport for people form Alton Barnes Beechingstoke, Bottlesford, Chirton, Hilcott, Honeystreet, Manningford Bruce, Marden, Patney & Woodborough.

Other winners from Wiltshire include inventor Adrian Bowyer from Chippenham, Francis Wakeham from Devizes for services to victims of crime, Adrienne Howell, from Mere for services to the community and skateboarder James Therlfall for services to young people.

The Combine Bus is always looking for volunteer drivers. To speak to the team about volunteering please call Alan on 01380 840302.