Trustees with south Norfolk Borderhoppa celebrate Big Lottery Fund grant

Geoff Doggett

Geoff Doggett

Delighted trustees and fundraisers with a south Norfolk community transport initiative are celebrating after receiving almost £350,000 from the Big Lottery Fund to launch an expanded service.

The cash will enable Borderhoppa to buy two more custom-built buses with wheelchair access, create four new full-time jobs and secure employment for seven existing staff.

The new Borderhoppa Plus project, which operates in south Norfolk and north Suffolk, will run for 12 hours a day Monday to Friday, instead of eight and a new Saturday service will be introduced to benefit those without the use of a car.

It is available to people of all ages, especially young job seekers and elderly people.

For the first time, the service will also be available in Long Stratton and the surrounding parishes.

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Geoff Doggett, trustee and fundraiser for Borderhoppa Plus said: 'This award from the Big Lottery Fund shows their understanding and desire to help us make a real difference to loneliness and social deprivation for those living in rural South Norfolk and North Suffolk.'

He added: 'I am still stunned by this fantastic news. We can now, as a local charity managed by volunteer trustees, really enjoy working with all our local parishes and community organisations in the Waveney valley and beyond to deliver three more years of innovative and excellent service.'

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South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon said: 'This award is marvellous news for the rural parishes around Diss, Harleston and Long Stratton.

'People in rural areas often struggle without their own transport or a regular bus service.

'However, this boost to the Borderhoppa will provide better access to local shops, jobs and amenities.

'This will help increase employment, lower rural isolation and grow the local economy.'

The existing core dial-a-ride service carries 20,000 passenger journeys per year to 64 parishes and brings an estimated benefit in excess of £350,000 to local market towns.

The Borderhoppa Plus project will increase that figure by 50% over three years and widen its catchment area to 70 parishes. Buses are also available to community groups for hire at affordable rates.

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