New ReadiBus dedicated to memory of Gary DeardsOur players and management helped to launch a new ReadiBus last week, which will be enable disabled Royals fans to continue to attend home and away games.
Disabled Royals supporters have been able to travel to matches direct from their front door on ReadiBus for many years – the new bus replaces the existing one and made its maiden voyage at the weekend. The service to away games is provided courtesy of the Supporters Trust at Reading (STAR). It is available for supporters with restricted mobility who cannot get to games by car or by other public transport.
The new bus is dedicated to the memory of Gary Deards, a former user of the service, who was also a member of STAR and Vice-Chair of Level Playing Field, the national charity which campaigns for better access for disabled people in football. Gary was an expert in the field of accessible stadia and sporting venues and worked tirelessly to try to improve the experiences of disabled sports spectators across England and Wales. He passed away in March 2014.
The bus has been given the fleet number 106 – a number known to Royals fans for the record points total in the record-breaking 2005/06 Championship title-winning season!
The bus is able to take up to five seated passengers plus three travelling in a wheelchair, and will be driven to matches by volunteers who have been trained by ReadiBus staff.
Ian Maynard, Board Member of Supporters’ Trust at Reading STAR, commented, “It is an honour for STAR to be involved with this. Gary was well liked and he worked very hard and effectively on behalf of disabled football fans. We look forward to the new bus being well used in this season and in the future.”
Peter Absolon, General Manager of ReadiBus, added: “Gary helped to get the football service started many years ago and was a key figure throughout. We wanted to recognise his contribution and decided to dedicate this bus to his memory and to give the bus a football theme. We are delighted with the support of STAR and Reading FC in making the bus dedication a special occasion. It is a great testament to Steve Clarke and the players that they took the time to come and join in and to meet some of the bus-users and Gary’s father.”
If you are a fan who would like to become involved as a volunteer to drive the minibus to home or away games or if you have restricted mobility and would like to use the bus to travel to home or away games, contact ReadiBus at www.readibus.org.uk. Note that you need to join or be a member of STAR in order to book for travel to away games. More details are also available at www.star-reading.org.uk under the travel/disabled travel section.