Bus driver and community champion recognised in Queen's Birthday Honours

Bus driver and community champion recognised in Queen's Birthday Honours

By Adele Forrest | 09/10/2020

Bus driver and community champion recognised in Queen's Birthday Honours
Former councillor Jane Havenhand

A BUS driver and a community stalwart have been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Jane Havenhand (55), chair of trustees for Dinnington Resource Centre, has been awarded an MBE for services to the community, and Rawmarsh-based bus driver Paul Billam (59) has been given a BEM for services to transport and the community during the pandemic.

Since taking over the chairmanship at Dinnington’s community-owned multi-use building, Jane has turned its fortunes around.

From an organisation that had accrued approximately £90,000 debts under previous management, she transformed the centre into a vibrant community facility with healthy finances.

She began fundraising to pay off the debt and to fundraise for other local charities through dances, concerts, seasonal events and dinners for vulnerable people

Over the last ten years she has also personally fundraised by participating in marathons, Peak Challenge Walks, and in 2012 she climbed Mount Kilimanjaro as part of a team that raised over £150,000.

Since the Covid-19 crisis began, she has become the volunteer coordinator and leader of The Dinnington Coronavirus Action Group (DNAG). This organisation is manned by volunteers based at the resource centre but since lockdown is now coordinated from her own home.

Set up to be utilised as a hub to help isolated and vulnerable residents receive essentials in order to survive the pandemic, it has provided isolation essential packs, hot meals, shopping buddies and other assistance since lockdown.

Through source funding and donations, up to the end of June it has provided 2,896 hot meals, 1,784 sandwiches, 396 shopping buddies, 489 children's gift bags and 123 food parcels.

Paul - voted the areas favourite bus driver by passengers six years ago - is an avid charity supporter and fundraiser, raising thousands of pounds for Bluebell Wood and other good causes.

When coronavirus struck, he sought to lift spirits so dressed up as different characters and surprised friends and colleagues’ children with visits and sweet treats to make them smile and their days a little brighter.

He extended this to families in his neighbourhood where sweet treats would be left on the doorstep and families would wave and smile through the window.

As a local bus driver he has built up strong rapport with his regulars on the 218 service. He checked on his regular customers by asking for a thumbs up or a thumbs down as he passed their gates each day and to shout to him if they needed anything as he passed.

He supported many of his customers with supplies and a sense of humour through very difficult times.

In the Dearne Valley, Samantha Siddall, project lead at Edlington Community Organisation, has also been awarded an MBE.


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