THE EXE Valley Market Bus committee will celebrate taking delivery of its brand new community bus at a formal launch event at Calverleigh Village Hall on Wednesday February 19.

The Market Bus - which is a not-for-profit organisation run entirely by volunteers - has purchased its new vehicle with the help of a £35,000 grant from Devon County Council, using its Department for Transport Sustaining Community Transport Fund.

The organisation has been running local services in the Oakford, Stoodleigh, Washfield, Loxbeare, Lurley and Calverleigh area for over 30 years and is a mainstay of the local community.

More recently, the committee has extended its services into neighbouring parishes in collaboration with Knowstone Parish Council, increasing passenger numbers, volunteer drivers and committee members.

The new bus ensures the continuity of reliable, scheduled services into Tiverton, South Molton and Barnstaple.

The bus is also being used for community hire trips arranged by groups such as local WIs, Tiverton Young Carers and Stoodleigh SWAG group.

Colin Radford, Chairman of the Market Bus, said: “We are delighted to receive this generous grant which has enabled us to replace our ageing Mini Bus, and thanks must also go to Devon County Council's Community Transport team for all their help.

“We would be unable to run this service without the dedicated support of our officers and drivers, past and present, to whom we are very grateful.

“We appreciate all of the local organisations who have entrusted us with their needs over the past 30 years and hope to work with them for many more years. With a new bus we are looking to the future with enthusiasm and 'comfortable riding' for many years.”

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “The Exe Valley Market Bus is a great example of what a rural community can achieve by working together.”