The chief executive of Dorset Community Transport (DCT) has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s 90th Birthday Honours List.
The honour was awarded to Mrs Anna Whitty in recognition of her major contribution to community transport, both locally and nationally.
Mrs Whitty has overseen the delivery of a range of innovative community transport services for individuals and groups across the UK through the umbrella organisation, ECT Charity. ECT Charity began its life nearly 40 years ago in Ealing, London, but in recent years Mrs Whitty has steered the charity to work with local authorities and other partners in Dorset, Cornwall and Cheshire.
Launched in 2011, Dorset Community Transport (which forms part of ECT Charity) operates a fleet of over 50 vehicles across the whole of Dorset county. In 2012, DCT delivered the accessible transport service during the London 2012 Olympic Sailing events in Weymouth and Portland, helping to transport nearly 4,000 people with mobility difficulties to and from the events on the coast.
On a national stage, Mrs Whitty has driven a series of high profile engagements that have put community transport on the map and in the spotlight for both its quality of service and the positive impact it can make. These began in 2012, when ECT Charity co-ordinated all the accessible transport for the Olympics and Paralympics, with more than 20 different community transport operators – making it the most accessible Games ever.
Sir Peter Hendy CBE, former Commissioner, Transport for London, said: “I am delighted that Anna Whitty has been made a Member of the Order of the British Empire. She has worked tirelessly for a large part of her working life to champion the needs of people for whom regular public transport cannot offer the solution for their essential journeys. Increasingly it is now recognised that giving people personal mobility delivers significant savings to the community as well as otherwise unattainable improvements to their personal health and wellbeing.”
Sir Peter, who was Commissioner from 2006 to 2015 and is now Chair of Network Rail, continued: “Under Anna’s leadership, ECT has matured into a hugely successful organisation with high quality operations both in London and elsewhere, as well as, with her personal involvement, helping make a huge success of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. She and ECT have set the highest standard for the provision of accessible transport and raised the level of understanding of the benefits of this with Government and other major opinion-formers nationally.”
The London 2012 legacy continued as ECT provided accessible transport for Prince Harry’s Invictus Games and, most recently, for the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Alongside this, ECT has used the recognition from these high profile events to build the reputation of community transport in mainstream circles.
During the past year, the charity also developed a new way to measure the positive impact of community transport, and piloted a groundbreaking initiative to help GP surgeries and clinical commissioning groups give patients greater access to health services.
In partnership with global consultancy Deloitte, ECT also produced groundbreaking research showing that community transport could save more than £1 billion for health and social care agencies in combating isolation and loneliness.
Mrs Whitty said she was “thrilled at this recognition for the work of ECT Charity – it is so important to me that the legacy from our achievements at London 2012 continues, and that we can show why community transport matters in our local communities and on a national level.”
She continued: “It may be a cliché, but I could not do it without the team. The reason we do so well is because the whole team is focused on fulfilling the needs of each individual passenger – this is at the heart of our approach and the reason why community transport itself is so important to our communities.”
Patrick O’Keeffe, Chair of ECT Charity, said: “This award recognises the spirit of Anna Whitty, and the team spirit and commitment that she has fostered across the organisation, in delivering high quality transport services to the most vulnerable and isolated people across all sectors of our community.”
Mr O’Keeffe also paid tribute to Mrs Whitty’s “innovation and exceptional leadership and management skills”. He added that her achievements were all the more impressive in the “male dominated” transport industry.