MORE than 1,600 passengers have helped this year's Imber bus trip organisers to raise £12,500 for charity.

Each year, profits from the one-day event are donated to The Friends of St Giles’s Church at Imber, to the Royal British Legion, and to other charities nominated by the organisers.

Martin Curtis, former managing director of the Bath Bus Company, who helped to organise Saturday's event, said: "We are down on the amount we raised in 2019, which was exceptionally high.

"But it is no different to the previous years and is no doubt down to the weather on Saturday and the Covid-19 pandemic."

The last Imber bus tours in 2019 raised nearly £25,000 for various charities and several thousand people took the opportunity to visit the deserted village on Salisbury Plain.

Following a break last year for the Covid-19 pandemic, organisers made sure this year that the only way to get there was by using the Imber buses from Warminster Station.

Access to Imber was only possible using the Imber buses and cars, motorbikes, cycles, scooters or pedestrians were not permitted access to the military roads.

Security guards blocked traffic without special permits from progressing beyond the gates at Sack Hill.

Among the visitors were Charlotte Fowler, 30, and Gabrielle Scriven, 24, from Clitheroe in Lancashire.

Charlotte said: “We are trainee solicitors with the law firm Backhouse Jones and we specialise in the transport sector.

“We have come down today to travel to Imber on the bus and to chat with some of the clients that we have only spoken to on the phone and on online Zoom meetings.

“We’re here to support the charities that will benefit from the trips and to support our clients.

“It has been really fascinating but it’s a shame that the weather isn’t better. It’s like a different world up there in Imber.”

Once at Imber, visitors are able to look around the deserted village, which was evacuated in 1943 and is still deserted to this day.

Residents were asked to leave in November 1943 to aid the training of American soldiers for the D-Days landing and were never allowed to return.

Imber is now used by the military as a training area for close quarter combat and is generally off limits to the public except on open days.

Those making the trip can obtain light refreshments at St Giles’s Church, part of which dates from the 13th century, and also at Tilshead and Chitterne village halls.

On Saturday, passengers made the trek to Imber on 24 assorted buses old and new supplied by the Bath Bus Company Ltd and other operators.

They take visitors from Warminster Station to Imber and beyond, with a half-hourly service to Gore Cross, New Zealand Farm Camp, Brazen Bottom, the Lavingtons, or to Tilshead and Chitterne, via Sack Hill and Imber Clump.