THE daffodils are out, the temperatures have crept into double figures and for many thoughts are turning to booking that summer holiday, weekend away or just having a day somewhere on North Yorkshire’s wonderful coast.

It’s what the British have done since Queen Victoria was on the throne and it only takes the tiniest peep of spring sunshine to persuade most of us to grab the towels, sunglasses and picnic basket and stampede to the seaside.

For most of us it’s a pleasure we take for granted, but for those who, through illness or disability, are unable to leave their home without full-time care, a day out is a is a massive undertaking, and a trip abroad is a near impossibility.

Last week, however, York welcomed a team from the Jumbulance Trust – a charity which owns and operates a small fleet of impressively equipped vehicles which are blurring the line between ambulance and coach, and opening up Europe and Britain to those who previously would have struggled to make it even to their local shop.

Chris Chisholm, 63, a qualified nurse and Jumbulance trustee returned to her native York last week to explain how the organisation works and how North Yorkshire has so far being missing out.

“We are a national charity which operates three Jumbulances, which are made for us specially in Belgium at a cost of £330,000,” she said.

“The windows are lowered for people who are in beds, they have an enormous toilet too and a kitchen and a lot of medical equipment.

“They are hired out to affiliated groups and the groups find nurses in their own areas who come along on the trips as volunteers.”

While the organisation enjoys a great deal of popularity in England and Scotland, Chris said there is a “black hole” in North Yorkshire, and the organisation is attempting to find groups in our region who would be interested in hiring the coaches.

Jumbulance also relies heavily on volunteers particularly the nurses who come along on every trip, to take care of the often seriously ill travellers on what could be a once-in-a-lifetime holiday for them.

“I have been doing it for 25 years as a volunteer nurse,” she said. Nurses work voluntarily but the organisation pays for the hotels etc.

“They don’t have to wear a uniform and they have a bit of fun and make a lot of friends because there are a lot of like-minded people.

“Most of those who do it want to do it again – it’s fun.”

For those volunteer nurses who do take up a role with the organisation, there is an impressive array of facilities on each of the trust’s vehicles.

The Jumbulances have provision for securing wheelchairs as well as the means to fix stretcher beds to tracking in the floor. There is a team of drivers all of whom are experienced in caring for the special needs of those who are unwell or disabled.

They cater for groups of up to 23, normally ten disabled and 13 carers, who wish to travel together on holiday or for a day outing.

The trust says its clients mainly consist of care homes for people of all ages, disabled sports clubs and associations, special schools and hospitals.

The non-profit making trust was launched in December 2001 under the title New Jumbulance Travel Trust, and obtained charitable status in February the following year. The title was changed and registered to the shorter version Jumbulance Trust in 2007.

As well as qualified nurses, Jumbulance is also looking for helpers from North Yorkshire, for each trip. The trust says you do not require any particular experience to volunteer as a helper on a Jumbulance trip.

All groups travels with a medical team and helpers with many years of experience who will be able to advise you.

They say you will never be asked to do anything you do not feel comfortable doing. Ideal qualities include “compassion and willingness to care for others and the ability to act on what you are seeing”.

A typical trip could involve everything from getting a number of wheelchairs or trolleybeds on and off the Jumbulances to helping with needs and care of people throughout the day.

The trust ackowledges it is sometimes difficult to put others needs before your own, but it says a Jumbulance holiday “involves a lot of fun and laughter from start to finish”.

Chris added: “The time you have travelling together is like one big family. The thing I always remember most is the laughter.”

If you are an organisation in the region who would like to hire a Jumbulance, visit

Those interested in volunteering, or who would like to organise a fundraising event to help the work of the Jumbulance Trust, can visit the website or phone 01582 831444.