30 years of Dedication -


The History of Local charity Harrow Community Transport


Harrow Community Transport has been providing Community Transport Services to the people of Harrow for over thirty years.
The ‘History of Harrow Community Transport’ tells the story of our roots and how the years of one person’s dedication to alleviating the problems of others, galvanised the goodwill and support of many. Much has changed since Harrow Community Transport first began, but the need for our services still remains, as does the determination and dedication of our volunteers, staff and Trustees to do as much as possible to help the people of Harrow for a further 30 years.

Alan Voda – Director: Harrow Community Transport   



The history of Harrow CT goes as far back as late 1970s.  Gladys Janes MBE, now the elected President of Harrow CT, has been championing the cause of the organisation for the past three and a half decades.  In late 1970s Gladys teamed up with a wide range of voluntary organisations in Harrow e.g. St John Ambulance Brigade, British Red Cross, and Women’s Royal Voluntary Service to provide the free transport to the local community in Harrow. Gladys brought much joy to the local community by organising social events (e.g. trips to swimming pools, Christmas shopping, weekly shopping etc.).  In 1996 Gladys was awarded the MBE (the Most Excellent Member of the British Empire) for the quality service she provided to the local community in Harrow.
               Gladys Janes MBE (centre)
Aims and objectives of Harrow CT

Harrow CT’s aim is to provide an accessible transport service to the residents of Harrow whether they have a disability or not.  We always try to help people and rarely say ‘no’ to anyone.   Harrow CT is a fully inclusive non-profit organisation.  For so many people, Harrow CT is a lifeline.  It is the only service that meets their needs.  Existing transport provision in Harrow does not meet the need of many groups and individuals, and Harrow CT fits an important niche in the transport hierarchy by providing a door to door service on request to many people and voluntary groups in Harrow whose mobility would otherwise be severely impaired.

Formation of Harrow CT  
In 1980 Harrow CT was formed by the Harrow Association of Voluntary Services and the Harrow Association for the Disabled under the dynamic leadership of Gladys. Gladys provided transport for people who faced difficulty in getting around.   Originally, the intention was to co-ordinate all voluntary transport schemes in Harrow, with Harrow CT as an umbrella organisation.  This idea fell through because the groups with their own transport were not keen to become involved further.  Harrow CT, therefore, turned to providing its own transport for disabled and disadvantaged residents of Harrow.  At an event, organised in April 1981, to enhance the awareness of the needs of disabled people, the presiding Mayor of Harrow, Cllr Eva Davies, and the then Chairman of the Harrow Association of Disabled people, Mr Tim Shapley gave warm tribute to the work carried out by Harrow CT by describing it as “the most useful service” within the Borough of Harrow.  With the dedication and devotion of volunteers, Harrow CT improved the quality of lives of the housebound and elderly people in Harrow by providing them accessible transport.
Support and Partnership
Harrow Community Transport has been supported in its work by stalwart local organisations working for the benefit of the wider community. Harrow CT would not exist as it does today without the great help and support of Harrow Lions, The Harrow Show Committee, Harrow Rotary Club and most recently, Rotary Club of Edgware and Stanmore.
Harrow Observer Friday 10th April 1981.
Mobility, Mobility, Mobility!
The Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) in Harrow has always campaigned for the rights of people with disabilities and mobility problems. Here, Harrow Association of the Disabled (HAD), together with the then mayor, Cllr Eva Davis, seek to highlight difficulties faced by wheelchair users when trying to access services in 1980’s Harrow. 
Offices of Harrow CT
In 1986 Harrow CT moved to its current offices at the Lodge, 64 Pinner Road, Harrow, HA1 4HZ.  Before 1986 Harrow CT did not have any permanent offices.  Soon after the organisation moved into the new offices, there was an unfortunate break-in which narrowly missed destroying the new headquarters of Harrow CT.  According to the Harrow Police, a concrete floor at the Lodge stopped a major fire developing.  The threat was posed by burglars who set alight a pile of papers in a ground-floor office of the two-storey building.  If the floor would have been wooden instead of concrete, the place would not be standing now.  The break-in left a trail of destruction.  According to the police reports, burglars even stole boxes of sweets ready for a pensioners’ day, cash, two electric typewriters, a video recorder and a telephone.  Not only the burglars stole these items, they also kicked in some of the doors of the offices and ransacked cabinet!
Harrow Observer Thursday 24th April 1986
Constitution of Harrow CT 

Harrow CT has a constitution, which provides a legal framework for the administration of the organisation.  Link: see constitution


Harrow CT works in a partnership with a wide range of charity organisations in Harrow.  This promotes a sense of well- being among people of all age groups in Harrow.  HCT are committed to extending partnership working to achieve diversity, especially with ethnic minority groups in Harrow.  

Administration of Harrow CT

From 1980 to 2004 a dedicated group of volunteers led by Gladys oversaw the general administration of Harrow CT. Ms Lillian Steggles carried out a voluntary co-ordinator role helping the organisation with its administration.  Lillian left the organisation in 2004.

The year 2005 opened a new chapter in the history of the Harrow CT.  The organisation recruited its first paid employee.  In 2005 Alec Spence joined Harrow CT as its first Director. 

As a member of Harrow Lions Alec was already deeply involved with the local community. Alec’s tireless work for the Lions saw him raising funds and helping to carry out the Lions’ community projects in the borough, bringing fun, support and relief to many. Alec was also supporting the work of Harrow CT even before he became the Director.  In mid-1980s when Alec ran for a local garage on Pinner Road, he helped the organisation in running an account with the garage.  This enabled Harrow CT to pay the petrol bill when the money was available.  This arrangement proved to be very helpful at the time.

Much loved for his professionalism and commitment by the community of Harrow, Alec masterminded Harrow CT’s transition from a voluntary charitable organisation to its current role as an essential part of Harrow’s voluntary and community sector infrastructure.  On 14 December 2009 tireless and hardworking community-minded Alec suddenly died of a heart attack.  He was just sixty.  People of Harrow were shocked with the untimely demise of their transport boss.  Local papers paid warm tributes to Alec.  In recognition of Alec’s dedicates services to Harrow CT, the meeting room at The Lodge in Pinner road, home to voluntary sector organisations including Harrow CT has been named as the ‘Alec Spence’ room.

 Alec Spence. Director 2005-2009
The current Director of Harrow CT is Alan Voda.  Alan joined the organisation in April 2010.  Alan’s vision is to provide a high quality low cost, accessible transport service to the disadvantaged people in Harrow.  Alan’s administrative team consists of 2 paid administrators and voluntary staff who work from time to time. In 2011 under Alan’s leadership, Harrow CT helped a record number of 10,000 passengers with transport services. The organisation currently has 9 vehicles and the support of 8 paid drivers.
Funding and vehicles
Harrow CT has suffered from the lack of funding from its inception in late 1970s.  The organisation has survived on donations in cash and kind from local charities, Harrow and Pinner Lions and private individuals.
In late 1970s Harrow Lions provided Harrow CT with a minibus which was used to help the local community with the transport service in Harrow.  In 1970s Harrow CT borrowed buses and vans from other charities to provide the transport service to the local community.
 First minibus donated by Harrow Lions.
In 1982-83 Harrow CT received generous donations of about £15,000 from a wide range of organisations including Avon, Kingfishers’ Swimming Club, the Metropolitan Police, Hatch End Townswomen’s Guild, Harrow School and Harrow Rotary Club.  Harrow CT was lucky to receive a much needed minibus from Pinner Round Table, a registered charity organisation.  During 1982-1983 Harrow CT operated three minibuses and had a team of twenty minibus drivers who made more than 700 journeys helping disabled people, Ginger Bread (the body for one-parent families) and friendship clubs.  Harrow CT generally met transport needs of the local community. 
In November 1989 Harrow CT acquired a Ford Transit minibus in the stunning metallic green, burgundy and silver colour.  The group, based at the Lodge, 64 Pinner Road in Harrow raised £15,000 from donations from the local organisations including the Harrow Show Committee (an independent voluntary umbrella organisation for allotment and Horticultural Groups in Harrow), local businesses and the members of the public.  Mr Keith Michael, Director of Perrys in Harrow Weald, kindly gave Harrow CT a discount on the Ford minibus.
 Collecting minibus no. 4 from Perry’s of Harrow. (Leader, November 24th, 1989)
The special feature of this minibus was that it was adapted to take wheelchairs, allowing users to travel to hospitals and day centres.  The weekly Harrow newspaper ‘Leader’ of 24 November 1989 captured the glorious moment when the Director of Perrys presented the keys of the minibus to the Executive Committee of Harrow CT.  On 6 August 1990 the then Chairman of the Harrow Show Committee, Mr Ken Toy, presented the keys of the minibus to Gladys at a function at the house of John Hall who was the Vice-Chairman of the Harrow Show Committee. 
(Independent, August 9th 1990)
The minibus represented the biggest practical gift made by the Harrow Show Committee.  The mini-bus was on show to all visitors to the Harrow Show at Headstone Manor, Pinner View and St Ann’s Precinct.
The year is 1991, and Harrow’s own ‘Guardian Angel’, Gladys Janes, is recognised   by the community for her tireless contribution in helping people with mobility problems. The Harrow Rotary club and Harrow Observer awarded the title ‘Guardian Angel’ to Gladys for the work she has done with her organisation; Harrow Community Transport.
Harrow Lions donate another minibus to Harrow Community Transport.

In December 1996 the National Lotteries Charities Board handed the biggest local grant, of nearly £100,000 to Harrow CT.  The grant helped the organisation with the purchase of three fully accessible 12-seater minibuses to replace the old vehicles.  New vehicles enabled Harrow CT to provide an improved transport service to more than 500 regular passengers who were unable to use public transport.
In 2005 Harrow CT put a new regime in place.  Groups and individuals now needed to become members of Harrow CT and they paid the annual membership fee before they used Harrow CT’s transport services.  Until 2005 Harrow CT provided the free transport service.   
Harrow CT currently owns 9 vehicles. This has been possible only because of a generous legacy donation of £43,000 from a resident of Harrow, Doreen Drysdale.        

 Doreen Drysdale

Doreen lived in Harrow and worked in the local Kodak Factory in Harrow Wealdstone.  As Doreen was blind, she relied heavily for a very long time on the transport service provided by Harrow CT.  Sadly, when Doreen passed away in May 2008, she kindly provided Harrow CT with a legacy donation of £43,000.  The donation enabled Harrow CT to buy a minibus.  The remainder of the legacy is used to help meet the cost of operating vital services for the Voluntary Community Sector in Harrow.

In recent years Harrow CT received financial help from a wide range of organisations e.g. City Bridge Trust, Harrow Council, Harrow and Pinner Lions and the National Lottery Grants Scheme.  In May 2011 City Bridge Trust awarded Harrow CT a two year business development grant.  The grant was awarded to aid Harrow CT’s development and self-sustainability programme.  London Borough of Harrow provided Harrow CT with a grant toward administrative costs.  Over the years Harrow and Pinner Lions have provided Harrow CT much with the much needed funding for vehicles.  Harrow CT also received a grant from Awards for All.  This money has been used to build this website, start up a Midas (Minibus Driver Awareness Scheme) driver training project and develop a new brochure to help promote our services to the community.  Awards for All (Lottery grants and funding) offers grants for projects that improve communities and the lives of people within them.  Rotary Club of Edgware and Stanmore kindly provided Harrow CT with a donation to help purchase a minibus.  Waitrose Store’s Community Matters Project awarded Harrow CT a grant which was used directly to help fund the Community Car Scheme, a wholly voluntary service administered by Harrow CT. 
Latest Minibus donated by Rotary Club of Edgware and Stanmore
Transport is an integral part to our lives.  Losing one’s mobility due to an illness or disability dramatically changes the pattern of movement in every walk of life: shopping, socialising, work and education and access to services etc.  People want to be independent irrespective of their disability and age.  Over the past 30 years Harrow CT has helped people to enjoy lives by providing the excellent transport service.  This has included all sort of trips e.g. from the hospital to a day outing at the sea. Harrow CT proactively looks for ways to improve our services.  We are currently considering how to develop our transport services further improving the quality of the life of the local community.
Harrow Community Transport
The History of Harrow Community Transport was researched and compiled by Veena Banerji, Administrative Volunteer for Harrow Community Transport. We would like to thank Veena very much for producing this history of our organisation.
 Veena Banerji

Tell us Your Stories


Do you recognise anyone in the pictures? Have you used Harrow Community Transport in the past? If so, we would very much like to hear about your trip, where did you go? Who did you go with?


If you would like to contribute your memories of Harrow Community Transport to our History page, please send us your recollections and we will add them to ours. To submit your memories by e-mail please click here: admin@harrowct.org.uk


"I'd like to say thank you to all the staff at Harrow Community Transport who are always willing and helpful. They will try and sort out any transportation problems I have whatever th...
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