On Wednesday 22nd May 2019 a Variety Sunshine Coach has been presented by Bingo Association Chief Executive, Miles Baron, to pupils at Sir Charles Parsons School in Newcastle Upon Tyne. This Sunshine Coach is the 26th donated by The Bingo Association in the past four years. Also in attendance at the presentation were Mike Smith, Operations Support Director Buzz Bingo, Norman Fletcher, General Manager, Buzz Bingo Newcastle, and Jackie Martin, Deputy Manager, Buzz Bingo Wallsend.

Sir Charles Parsons School is a special school that caters for 182 students aged 11-19 years with profound and complex learning difficulties. A significant number of its students have mobility issues and 26 are wheelchair users. The new specially adapted Sunshine Coach will replace their 16-year-old minibus, which has finally reached the end of its useful life. The new minibus will be used extensively every school day, as well as during the holidays and for after-school clubs.

Variety’s Sunshine Coaches have helped improve the lives of thousands of disabled or disadvantaged children across the UK. The coaches enable schools to take children on education and recreational days out allowing children to explore places they would otherwise never have visited. Earlier this month, Variety donated their 5,600th Sunshine Coach in the UK.

Karen Hamilton, Headteacher, Sir Charles Parsons School, said: “Our students are so excited by the arrival of the new minibus. It will be used extensively every school day, as well as during the holidays and after-school clubs. Students rely on using the school minibus for residential and day visits, summer club visits to the coast, curriculum visits to art centres, other schools for sports competitions and matches, and work experience opportunities, college visits and courses. These have been significantly reduced in recent months due to the age and ‘health’ problems of our old minibus.
“The Friends of Sir Charles Parsons School’ (which is the schools registered charity) raised half the funds for the new bus through regular fundraising activities such as sponsored events and coffee morning. However, if we’d had to raise all the funds ourselves for a new bus it would have taken over two years, during which time students would have missed out on life changing experiences. The support from Variety, the Children’s Charity, The Bingo Association and Buzz Bingo has been invaluable.”

Jo Carter, Director of Fundraising, Marketing and Comms, Variety, said: “The huge generosity of The Bingo Association continues to overwhelm us. The support of The Bingo Association’s members and customers has directly funded the donation of 26 Sunshine Coaches in the past four years, making a real and tangible difference to thousands of disadvantaged and disabled children around the UK.
“Today’s donation will mean that pupils at the Sir Charles Parsons School will continue to be able to travel daily to competitions, curriculum visits, after school clubs and exciting days out.”

Miles Baron, Chief Executive of The Bingo Association, said: “I would like to thank the members, like Buzz Bingo, who are present today, for the incredible support and generosity of their customers and staff. Customers from more than 340 bingo clubs across the UK have made this very worthy donation of a Sunshine Coach possible.
“We have now raised over £1.3 million for Variety in the past four years – a truly incredible amount – and it is brilliant to see that this has such a fantastic, direct impact on improving the lives of thousands of sick and disadvantaged children around the UK.”