Express & Star

MP steps in to help source transport for charity after thieves steal £43,000 community lifeline minibus

An MP has stepped in to help source transport for a charity after thieves stole its £43,000 lifeline minibus.

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Hazel Whittaker, aged 98, was among the first to ride in the minibus when it was bought in 2018

The owners Landywood District Voluntary Help Centre in Walsall Road, Great Wyrley near Cannock said it was “absolutely devastated” about the theft of the silver-coloured Peugeot which happened in January.

The charity, which helps people get out and about and socialising, has been without any transport since and has been unable to organise any day trips.

The 16-seater Peugeot Boxer purchased six years ago was a vital lifeline for the most vulnerable members of the community and was been specially adapted to carry residents with mobility issues.

The stolen minibus

Centre members organised fundraising activities including raffles and garage sales for three years and attracted donations from businesses to pay for the van.

South Staffordshire MP Sir Gavin Williamson recently met with the charity’s treasurer, Vivien Evans, who asked him for help in acquiring a new vehicle.

He has offered to work with the insurance company to ensure that the insurance claim on the stolen vehicle is honoured and has also offered to help source an alternative vehicle for the charity to continue running.

Vivien said: “Landywood District Voluntary Help Centre was pleased to receive a visit from Sir Gavin Wiliamson who has been a friend to us over the years since he was elected.

"He remains a supporter of our work and offered to help with the progress of our insurance claim, following the theft of our minibus in January.”

Sir Gavin said: “I was devastated to hear of the loss of the minivan at Landywood Voluntary Help Centre, a charity which I have been lucky to support for many years.

"I’m glad that I can assist their search for a new vehicle, and I will be supporting them with their insurance claim, to ensure that it is successful.

"I hope to see the charity up and running again with full force soon, as the organisation is a wonderful addition to the Landywood community.”

The charity also launched an online appeal for donations to fund another vehicle.

Anyone who can help can email

Hazel Whittaker, aged 98, was among the first to ride in the minibus when it was bought in 2018 and she carried out the official ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The centre, which has been running for almost 50 years, relies on donations and volunteers to keep it running.

It was launched to provide shopping support for infirm and housebound residents.

The organisation grew and later established a drop-in centre and began offering social visits and gardening services as well as a transport scheme.