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All aboard the library bus to brush up on reading skills

22 May 2017

Stagecoach North East and other north east employers have been working with Westoe Crown Primary School in South Shields to help transform a double-decker bus into a much needed library for pupils. 

The bus, one of two donated to the school by Stagecoach North East, arrived in March 2015 and was worked on by children and their parents until the project stalled due to lack of funds. “My son started at the school in September and I heard about the bus project and decided to see how I could help,” explained Jody Graham, who is a Technical Coordinator at AkzoNobel’s Felling site. “AkzoNobel really encourage employees to bring colour to their own communities as part of their Human Cities initiative so I decided to apply for funding to see if we could help out.”

The school previously didn’t have a library so stored books in a corridor without seats.  AkzoNobel, a leading coatings and chemicals company with sites in Felling and Ashington, provided just under £8,000 to the bus project. The donation helped pay for  an electrician to install lights and sockets as well as a handyman to remove the seats and put flooring down and walls up. Once that work was complete around 22 employees from Felling site gave up their own time to help paint and decorate the bus. 

Children at the school were asked to choose the decoration themes, giving the bus a totally unique layout. A beach and nautical theme features on the downstairs of the bus and upstairs is split into three different areas: ‘We are one world’, which focuses on books and learning of all cultures and nationalities, a ‘Super Hero’ zone which features comics and a ‘Places your Mam won’t let you read’ zone which includes a toilet and bathroom theme.

The first bus the school had donated to them from Stagecoach North East in 2015 is a popular space used for arts and crafts and it’s hoped that the library will continue to be as popular in years to come; it’s certainly been met with much approval from the students so far. Four year old Max, Jody’s son, approves; “I think it’s great,” he said. “My favourite bit is the super heroes and that the Sunderland players came down to open it for us; my mum is great for organising it all!”

Janine Fowley, Operations Manager for Stagecoach North East’s South Shields depot, said: “We’re thrilled to have helped deliver this creative and inspiring learning environment for the children at Westoe Crown Primary School. Learning should be fun and exciting; this is an important initiative and a great way to use bus vehicles that have come to the end of their normal service.  

“Our bus network connects communities across South Shields and we always try our best to support projects which will benefit the local community - especially when it comes to youth learning and development - it feels brilliant that we are helping to make a real difference to so many youngsters at Westoe Crown Primary School and we really hope that it will continue to inspire generations for years to come.”

To commemorate the opening super mum Jody invited players from son Max’s favourite football team, SAFC, to come to the school and officially open the library bus. 

Steve Price, Head Teacher, Westoe Crown Primary School, said: “We have been overwhelmed by the support received from Jody and other friends and families who have helped with this creative project over the past two years. A special thanks to Stagecoach North East, AkzoNobel, Northumbria Water and Snugfit in helping to make our dreams come true – 700 little hearts are definitely beating faster at the thought of being able to use our very special Library Bus!”