It’s all aboard for one Moray community after they landed the coveted prize in the Press and Journal’s minibus competition.
A total of 165 groups from across the north and north-east entered our competition to win the minibus – worth more than £37,000 – which has been donated by oil and gas firm Nexen.
And today, we can reveal the Keith and Strathisla Community Bus Group as the winners.
Thanks to the backing of the local community, the group collected thousands of tokens – with 1,500 handed over in just one weekend.
When they threw their hats into the ring, group chairman William Gray admitted it was a lottery but said the prospect of winning a new 17-seater bus for the area was too good to pass up.
About 20 organisations regularly use the group’s current bus, including Scouts, the British Legion, bowling clubs, schools and health support groups.
Mr Gray said: “The whole community really came together for this. We had collection points in the paper shop, the scout hall and the kirk shop where we take all the bookings.
“I had people coming up to me in the street handing me tokens. The amount of support we’ve had is just phenomenal. I got given 1,500 tokens just in the last weekend.
“It’s going to be very well used. We’re out about five times a week with it so it’s not going to just sit in a car park for weeks on end.”
Before winning the prize the group were facing the headache of pulling together enough money to keep their current bus on the road.
Regular users of the bus faced having to find more expensive transport other than the Keith and Strathisla group’s compliment of 12 volunteer drivers.
All groups – from as far afield as Aberdeen and Shetland – that entered the competition made a superb effort to land the bus for their own community with a staggering 132,000 tokens sent in. However, unfortunately only one organisation can win.
A ceremony will be held to present the Keith and Strathisla Community Bus Group with their new wheels next week with the Press and Journal there to capture the moment.
Ray Riddoch, managing director of Nexen’s UK operations, said: “Nexen is committed to supporting the local communities in which we work and live. This competition provides a fantastic opportunity for us to reach out and help enrich the lives of residents and groups across the north-east.
“Congratulations to the winners Keith and Strathisla Community Bus Group, who collected thousands of tokens to secure the minibus. They are deserving winners and the bus will provide a vital resource to a number of groups for trips around the area.”
Damian Bates, editor in chief of the Press and Journal, said: “Congratulations to the Keith and Stathisla community for their fantastic achievement and I hope that they enjoy their prize to the full.
“The response we had to our competition from community groups throughout our area was amazing and reflects the great work they do on a day-to-day basis.
“Congratulations are also due to Nexen for their generosity in donating the minibus.”