A coach driver from Coltness is ensuring children enjoy the summer by organising trips to the seaside.
Gary Wilson, 46, set up a Facebook group offering days out, driving the bus himself to help keep costs down for families.
The caring dad-of-four works for Kevin’s Coaches in Newmains but on his days off he is working even harder, organising trips to places such as Burntisland, Largs, Heads of Ayr, and even Flamingo Land down in Yorkshire.
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Gary revealed: “I just asked the company one day if they would give me a discounted bus so I could take the local families away on a day trip, and I would drive for free. It’s just spiralled from there and I’m running trips all over the place.
“I take my weans away on trips all year and knew I was going to struggle this year [financially], so I also thought I could get them away too. I started the Facebook group and the thing is just going bananas. The group has more than 3400 members. I’m not joking, the phone is going almost 24 hours a day.”
Organising the trips isn’t without its stresses though.
Gary, who now lives in Carluke, admits: “I had a trip to Largs the other day and there were people who let me down and I ended up with 31 spare seats. But the demand is so high that I managed to fill them the night before.
“It’s no bother as long as people pay when they’re meant to. Although it can be hard keeping track of all the messages.
“I had four buses up to Burntisland the other day.
“It would be good to get a bit of regular help as at the moment I’m almost a one-man band. I need to set up a better system.”
While Gary is trying to keep the cost of travel for the days away down, there isn’t much he can do about the price of activities once they arrive at their destination.
“It was £4 just to get on the bouncy castles in Burntisland,” he revealed.
“I’m trying to raise funds to buy our own bouncy castles, table tennis, football goals and that sort of stuff. I have one bouncy castle already.
“I’m looking for a field to rent to try and arrange days that will cost nothing for the kids. A bit like the play schemes back in the day.
“Nobody does anything like that these days. There’s too much red tape.”
For Joanne McCafferty and her six girls, aged four to 17 years old, July 22 is always a special day.
Sadly, this year it is the 15th anniversary of the day Joanne’s son Jack Pollock was stillborn.
Gary very kindly loaned the family a bouncy castle for the day.
Joanne, 35, who lives in Cambusnethan, said: “We visit Jack’s grave and I normally always try and take the kids somewhere, or do something with them. I try and make it an extra special day for them.
“I had asked on Facebook about a bouncy castle and Gary got in touch to say he’d give us the one he has. I would have had to pay for one so I’ll donate something to his fundraising page. It’s brilliant what he is doing.
“Even in summers in the past Gary would always take all the kids along with his own away on walks up the bing, or here and there. He always made sure they had something to do and all of them were included.
“I’ve not managed to get away on any of the trips yet but I will. I want to go to Heads of Ayr.”
Gary’s group can be found by searching Facebook for Summer Daytrips.
And you can donate to Gary’s Community Fundraiser here.