TRIBUTES have been paid to a stalwart community transport volunteer described as a “local unsung hero”.

Peter Cunliffe, who lived in Clinkham Wood, died aged 62 on Friday, December 28 after a long battle with illness.

He was the second ever volunteer driver at St Helens Community Transport (SCT), set up in 2001, and an active member of Clinkham Wood Tenants and Residents Association.

Peter eventually became director of the voluntary transport provider giving the organisation much of his time voluntarily.

Even as he began to suffer poor health he remained committed to SCT in an administrative role until 2014.

Earlier that year as CEO mark Arnold left the organisation, Peter, as chair of the Board and his team took on responsibility to manage and run SCT on a voluntary basis.

Peter’s work helped strengthen SCT and led to thousands of disabled, elderly and frail, charities, churches and schools being able to access affordable and wheelchair accessible minibus transport.

SCT operates on a ‘not for profit’ basis and does not receive any grant our local authority support, paying its own way by charging for its services on a cost recovery only basis utilising volunteers.

During the worse of austerity, when funds were at their lowest ebb, Peter even invested £20,000 from his personal pension funds into SCT to ensure they could pay deposits on vehicles that needed to be replaced, to ensure the continued valuable service.

Mark Arnold, a friend of Peter’s who is now CEO of Halton Community Transport, said: “Peter Cunliffe never sought the limelight or reward for his service.

“He was a true ‘unsung local hero’, his reward was knowing that disabled people in St Helens like himself had a good community transport service to fall back on when they needed it.”

He also played a pivotal role in the development of the St. Helens Food Co-op.

His funeral will be at St. David’s Church, Clinkham Wood on Tuesday, January 22 at 11:30am.