RESIDENTS flocked to see the fruits of their labour as an ambulance with a difference took centre stage in Romsey.

The Jumbulance, a cross between an ambulance and a luxury coach, was in the Cornmarket as a thank-you from the Jumbulance Trust to residents of the town for the funds they had contributed towards a new £320,000 purpose-built vehicle.

The Jumbulance enables seriously-ill or disabled people to travel in safety and comfort so they can go on holiday.

It is equipped with stretcher beds, a disabled toilet and electronic lift, as well as a range of medical equipment, including resuscitation unit.

As a registered ambulance, it even has a blue light on top for emergencies.

It takes around 20 people, roughly half carers and half disabled or sick people, known as “VIPs”. There are usually trained nurses or care workers on board and in some cases a doctor.

Passengers include stroke victims, those with Parkinson’s disease, MS, a long-term or severe disability, cerebral palsy, or terminal illness.

Jumbulance Trust, a national charity, has spent three years raising the funds to pay for the new vehicle .

The Romsey branch of the trust will run trips this year to Llandudno, Norfolk, southern Ireland and Lourdes.

Trained nurse, Chris Chisholm, set up the Romsey branch six years ago when she moved to the area.

She said it gave respite to the families that care for a disabled or sick person, allowing them to have a guilt-free holiday while their loved one also enjoyed a vacation with 24-hour care.

Mrs Chisholm, of Farley Chamberlayne, says that, apart from the drivers, everyone on board is a volunteer and pays for their own holiday.

Carers get some initial training, but largely learn as they go.

Ruby Rowe, 73, retired, from Compton, has a daughter, Kate Rowe, 46, with spina bifida, who she cares for full time. Kate has been on four trips aboard the Jumbulance.

“It means my husband and I get a break and she loves it,” said Mrs Rowe.

“She meets new people and it’s great. I’d really recommend it and ask people to support it because it’s providing a fantastic service.”

Sally Dickens, from Braishfield, who took a look at the new vehicle when it came to Romsey on Thursday of last week, said: “I’m very impressed by the quality, the care and the degree of volunteering.

“I think it’s a wonderful facility, certainly a life-enhancer for people who are suffering all the time and great relief for their family members.”

Susy Copus, a newly-qualified nurse, heard about Jumbulance because her mother is volunteering for the Lourdes trip and wanted to learn more about it.

She said: “I just think it’s a really great way to spend your time and holiday, but you are helping as well.”

To find out more, donate, or volunteer, call 01794 368250, or email