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Kirkby bus trust volunteer shortlisted for top BBC Radio Make a Difference Award

4 weeks ago

Kirkby bus trust volunteer shortlisted for top BBC Radio Make a Difference Award
North West Vehicle Restoration Trust

When he’s not tending the sports pitches and gardens of Edge Hill University, you’ll often find its groundsman James Morgan with his head under a bus engine or cleaning one of the vintage double deckers at North West Vehicle Restoration Trust in Kirkby.

And it’s his dedication to the North West Vehicle Restoration Trust that’s seen him named in this year’s BBC Radio Make a Difference Awards.

James, 45, is one of only four people shortlisted from a host of nominations in the Volunteer Award category given to ‘an individual who makes a notable difference to their community by giving their time voluntarily to help others’.

And he says: “I feel absolutely thrilled that I was nominated me for the Make A Difference Volunteer Award and, to be honest, overwhelmed and quite humbled.

James Morgan, hard at work at North West Vehicle Restoration Trust
James Morgan, hard at work at North West Vehicle Restoration Trust

“I have never had anything like this before.”

North West Vehicle Restoration Trust has a collection of vehicles telling the history of public transport from the 1940s right up to the 2000.

The charity restores them and takes them to shows across the country as well as having several open days each year – including this Sunday – when the public can visit and see these amazing vehicles.

As well as preservation, it keeps the skills needed alive too.

“It’s people lives and stories,” says NWVRT secretary, trustee and founder James Rowlands. “A lot of people who used to work on the buses come to see us and tell us how they used to drive them, or others who used to ride on them.

North West Vehicle Restoration Trust
North West Vehicle Restoration Trust

“It’s our heritage and it’s important we preserve that.” 

More than 10 after he started, James is still there, and he says: “It gives me an enormous sense of satisfaction knowing that in years to come these buses will still be here for future generations to enjoy and not left to rust in some old shed – and I’ll be able to look and say ‘I worked on that’.

“I have been an enthusiast of buses for more than 20 years and I’d always wanted to get involved with them,” says James, who’s originally from Hunts Cross but now lives in Maghull, “so when I heard about the trust being formed, I thought I would join up and see what it was like … and I really enjoyed it.”

It was James Rowlands who nominated James for the award which runs across BBC local radio stations in England and leads to the final being held in September.

James with James Rowlands' black lab Ollie - the NWVRT's canine mascot
James with James Rowlands’ black lab Ollie – the NWVRT’s canine mascot

He says: “We are lucky to have James on the team. He is the hardest working team member, always first in and last out, doing a lot behind the scenes, and often the less glamorous tasks that other people might try to avoid. He is always the first to help.

“James has always been a really hands-on volunteer. He took a week off work to help us get ready for this weekend’s open day because that’s the level of commitment, and passion about restoring these old buses, that he has.

“We wanted to thank him for all his hard work, and we wish him good luck for September. We really do appreciate everything he does for the trust.”

North West Vehicle Restoration Trust
North West Vehicle Restoration Trust

James is happy to continue giving so many spare hours to the trust because he loves the character of the old vehicles: “I used to travel on them as a child, going to school and days out with my family, and so they bring back happy memories.”

He will be delighted if he wins in September, but James smiles: “Being nominated and shortlisted to the final four is an award in itself, and I’m thrilled and honoured.”

* You can see the buses as well as older trucks and cars at North West Vehicle Restoration Trust on its FREE Open Day this Sunday, June 2, from 9.30am-5.30pm.  There’ll also be stalls filled with bus memorabilia, food and drinks, and free services on the buses from Prescot, Knowsley Village, Kirkby, and more, to its base in Charley Wood Road, Kirkby Industrial Estate.

For more info on the North West Vehicle Restoration Trust click here.

For the latest news around Liverpool click here.

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