'Tireless' Northampton volunteer driver who helped thousands of people attend medical appointments dies

Roger Pratten passed away on New Year's Day and will be sorely missed by staff at Voluntary Impact Northamptonshire.
Roger Pratten passed away on New Year's Day and will be sorely missed by staff at Voluntary Impact Northamptonshire.

A highly thought of Northampton driver has passed away after dedicating 15 years of his life to helping thousands of patients attend their medical appointments.

Roger Pratten, 66, from Kingsthorpe, volunteered for the Northampton Volunteer Car Scheme and died in hospital on New Year's Day after giving up voluntary driving four days a week.

Roger Pratten.

Roger Pratten.

Roger, a former lorry driver, became acquainted with the scheme when he underwent a life-threatening kidney and heart transplant, and during his recovery he used the service to attend follow-up appointments. As a result of the transplant, he was unable to return to his job and decided to give something back to the scheme.

Sally Jones, car scheme coordinator, said: "His tireless effort and enthusiasm was an inspiration for new drivers and he regularly took them out to show them the ropes, to share his expertise, knowledge and tips.

"He was also an invaluable source of information for Car Scheme office staff, their eyes and ears on the ground, helping make sure the scheme ran smoothly.

"Roger will be greatly missed by all of the Car Scheme team, his passengers and fellow drivers. He was a pleasure to work with and he proved himself, time and time again, to be dedicated above and beyond the call of duty. Roger was an inspiration to us all."

Roger, who was an avid member of the MG car owners club, would make an average 550 voluntary hours of journeys per month - which across the year was equivalent to £564,000 in Heritage Lottery Funding.

Sally added: "He had a wealth of experience and offered so much more than driving. He gave passengers, many of whom became friends, the reassurance and support they needed at a difficult and anxious time in their lives.

"The volunteer drivers are the lifeblood of the scheme, without them it would not be able to support the 1,000 passengers, who last year attended over 13,000 appointments."

Roger had a colourful life and was a keen car enthusiast who volunteered regularly as a specialist marshal working in the pit lane and start line at Silverstone Circuit, Whilton Mill and Hunts Kart Racing Club. In 1985 Roger drove from Land’s End to John O’Groats for charity and in 2010 shipped his beloved MG over to America for a seven-week driving tour.

The Northampton Volunteer Car Scheme supports elderly and disabled people in the borough of Northampton and Grange Park, who need help to get to their medically related and well-being appointments. The Northampton Volunteer Car Scheme can be contacted on 01604 628234 or carscheme@voluntaryimpact.org.uk