History of RDCT
In 1992 the Secretarial team at Royston Health Centre recruited a team of volunteer drivers, using their own cars, to transport patients to their hospital appointments, who could not get there by other means. With the idea soon a victim of its own success, becoming too big for the Health Centre staff to manage Sue Vincent started Royston Community Transport in 1994, based at Royston Hospital with funding from the District Health Authority, starting with a handful of drivers who transferred from the Health Centre scheme.
Occupying a former nurses’ single bedroom upstairs in the hospital, a small managing committee was set up and chaired by Rod Kennedy, with one minibus and an MPV, plus about 30 drivers.
RCT expanded steadily over the years to include other journeys, including transporting people in Royston to day centres and clubs.
Recognising the value of the scheme funding was also coming from Hertfordshire County Council and North Herts District Council, Cambridgeshire County Council and South Cambs District Council.
In 2002, RCT was presented with a wheelchair accessible MPV funded through Herts County Council, used to transport hospital patients and clients who cannot transfer from a wheelchair into a car.
Sue Vincent left in 2004 and David Wherrell became scheme manager with a full-time co-ordinator.
That year RCT merged with the Melbourn & Meldreth car scheme, as a result changing its name to Royston & District Community Transport to reflect the wider area of benefit, securing funding from Melbourn and Meldreth parish councils. Later merging with schemes in Duxford, Shepreth and Chrishall, with over eighty volunteer drivers RDCT now cover areas of North and East Hertfordshire, South Cambridgeshire - and a bit of Essex.
In 2008, RDCT became a registered charity and a charitable limited company, which makes us eligible for grant aid from various sources. We are now managed by a board of trustees of the charity and directors of the limited company.
We have a client list of about 1,000 people. In 2019, RDCT carried out approximately 50 journeys a day. Destinations included the major local and London hospitals, shopping trips, social visits, club outings and all types of health visits, covering over 225,000 miles. At this stage we had about 80 volunteer drivers.
RDCT supports the Thriplow Daffodil Weekend, supplying minibuses, wheel-chair accessible MPV and volunteer drivers, and receives costs and a generous donation from the organisers of the weekend.
The traditional view of Community Transport being used by those of impaired mobility, old age or infirmity has changed to include anyone suffering social exclusion, such as the lack of a bus service.
Dramatic changes happened in the 2020 – 2021 period with the retirement of David Wherrell, Scheme Manager since 2004, causing a rearrangement of our management scheme to include greater input from Trustee Directors. This occurred at the same time as everything changed with the arrival of Covid-19, initially reducing the service available and introducing strict Covid related passenger safety. With the upsurge of interest in volunteering, we recruited 40 more younger drivers as the older ones were not allowed to help, this assisted to keep the service going and rejuvenating the scheme.
RDCT has survived and adapted well under the leadership of Chairman Dr. John Hedges, with a dedicated group of trustees/directors creating a more business-like structure ensuring we keep up with legal and efficiency changes.