PETWORTH MP Nick Herbert has welcomed the new chairman of the West Sussex Community Minibus Association.
Alastair Shepherd, a retired army officer, was elected chairman at the association’s 38th annual meeting at Fittleworth Village Hall.
Mr Herbert and Colonel Sir Brian Bartelott were re-elected as vice president and president.
They paid tribute to Andrew Vivian, who stepped down as chairman after nine years in the post. He was also a volunteer driver before he joined the committee.
The West Sussex Community Minibus Association has seven divisions and a fleet of 13 vehicles serving more than 40 villages and including Petworth, Pulborough and Storrington.
The association has more than 800 members and dozens of volunteers who drive and maintain the buses, as well as many more who support the co-ordination of the services.
Andrew Vivian said: “The remarkable success of the community minibus since the first ad hoc committee meeting in 1975 is due entirely to the commitment and enthusiasm of an army of volunteers in a wide range of roles, together with the support given by so many organisations, local authorities, sponsors and, of course, members.
“The ‘minibus’ has been and will continue to be a lifeline for many, being so often the only means of transport for our rural communities as well as being such a great source of friendship.”
Nick Herbert added: “I am full of admiration for the many volunteers who support the association and provide what is really an essential public service and I would particularly like to pay tribute to Andrew Vivian who has done so much for the charity in his years as chairman.”