Neil Atherton with vaccine bus
Neil Atherton with the vaccine bus © Neil Atherton

Fundraiser Neil Atherton is to receive an British Empire Medal (BEM) award for his services to public transport and the community in Liverpool and Widnes during Covid-19.

The 43-year-old Arriva bus instructor has walked over 250 miles in recent years to help those in need, donating all raised funds to Whitechapel Centre and the Trussell Trust food banks.

In 2021, Neil drove Arriva’s vaccination bus around Liverpool in an effort to battle the virus.

He was meant to drive, park and sit in the bus while the nurses administered the vaccines to those who weren’t registered at a doctors practice, but the enthusiastic driver had everyone in line singing and dancing.

In recognition of his work getting the public vaccinated, Neil was invited to Number 10 Downing Street by then-Prime Minster Boris Johnson in 2021, who then submitted his name for King Charles’ first New Year Honours List.

On April 27, Neil will accept his BEM for his services to public transport and to the community in Liverpool and Widnes during Covid-19 at Tatton Hall in Knutsford.

Neil Atherton at number 10
Neil Atherton at No. 10 © Neil Atherton Instagram

His wife, daughter and parents will be there to support him.

Neil said: “They’ve been though it with me, when I’ve been struggling through it all so its nice for them to be rewarded as well.” 

In the 2020 autumn half term, the family man then set out on a mission to raise money for the food banks during the pandemic by walking the bus routes in Runcorn, totalling 150 miles and raised over £5,000.

Post-pandemic, the annual rate of inflation in the United Kingdom rose to 10.1% in September 2022, returning to the 40-year high hit in July, affecting the affordability of goods and services for households.

The Bus Walker © Chloe Bush

After witnessing the struggles of local people, the bus walker laced up his boots for the second time and walked the bus routes around Merseyside, walking over 105 miles and raising over £3,800.

Neil said: “The bus is the cheaper travel, so you generally see people who are struggling for money, and we take them around.

“I walk the routes because they’re our people who are struggling and we see it more because we travel, and we see the poverty that people are going through at the moment.”

The bus walker is set to challenge himself one last time with a final bus route walk to be completed this year.

All donations will go to the Trussell Trust food banks.

More information to follow. 

Listen to hear what Neil has to say about the award: 

Featured image by Chloe Bush 




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