VOLUNTEER drivers who provide a lifeline to Southend Hospital patients have won heartfelt praise.

Thorpe Bay couple Tom and Sally Clark described Southend Hospital’s voluntary driving scheme, Carecars, as “brilliant” as they relied on the service to enable Tom to get treatment for cancer.

Carecars drivers took Tom, accompanied by his wife Sally, for his daily radiotherapy sessions at Southend Hospital between Monday to Friday over five weeks.

The scheme covered a total of 25 return trips.

Sally was full of admiration for the volunteers whose work is so valued by patients.

She said: “It’s a brilliant service. Drivers Terry, John, Karen and May were never late.

“They were always courteous and never asked intrusive questions.

“The service meant we never had to worry about parking and when you have to go through something like this, it is so reassuring to have this service.”

The couple were so grateful that they donated an additional amount of money to the charity that funds the service which also ferries patients to Basildon and Chelmsford hospitals.

The hospital’s Carecars scheme is entirely run by volunteers, from the clerks who man the booking desk to the team of around 40 part-time drivers who take patients and their families to and from their hospital appointments, for a suggested donation of 50p per mile.

Southend Hospital’s voluntary services manager, Jane O’Connell, said: “We are delighted that Mr and Mrs Clark were so well looked after, particularly at such a stressful time.

“Our volunteers do the most wonderful job. It’s very rewarding for them, too, to know they are helping people.”

Jane is currently looking for more voluntary drivers as more patients travel to Basildon and Chelmsford for treatment.

If you think you can help support the service or would like to find out more information about how to get involved, please call 01702 435555 ext 6135 for more details.