Durants Schools in Enfield, north London and in Derrymount School in Nottingham were overjoyed to be presented with brand new Variety Sunshine Coaches funded by commercial property development company, Citygrove, and investment and insurance company, Legal & General.

A team of seven Citygrove and Legal & General staff, led by Citygrove Chairman, Toby Baines, reached the 5,895 metres (19,341 feet) summit of Africa’s highest mountain, Kilimanjaro summit in June last year after a ‘breathtaking’ climb in darkness and freezing cold temperatures.

The successful ascent involved high altitude, walking for up to eight hours every day, living out of backpacks and risking fatigue, altitude sickness and hypothermia. However, all the training, and discomfort were rewarded when the colossal sum of £40,000 was raised from their friends and colleagues and enabled Citygrove to reach their half century of Sunshine Coaches for Variety – a phenomenal achievement in itself!

Citygrove Chairman, Toby Baines, said:

“I was privileged to undertake one of the most challenging events I’ve ever attempted. No matter how difficult the terrain and altitude became, we knew that we would be achieving more than just something for ourselves by enhancing the lives of many disabled and disadvantaged children.”

“The punishing climb up Mount Kilimanjaro was rewarded when we raised the astonishing sum of £40,000, allowing us to fund a Variety Sunshine Coach each school.”

Special guest, Montanna Thompson, who plays Justine Littlewood in the hit children’s show ‘Tracey Beaker’, one of the biggest children’s shows, proved hugely popular with children as she toured the school with the other visitors.

Head teacher Peter Derosa of Durrants School commented:

“ We are truly thankful for the donation of the specialised Sunshine Coach from Variety and Citygrove and Legal & General. This donation means a great deal to the children of the school. The Coach will enable them to live an enriched life, with opportunities to join in and experience activities which were previously inaccessible.”

Derrymount School Headteacher, Kathy McIntyre, commented:

“ We are truly thankful for the donation of the specialised Variety Sunshine Coach and Citygrove and Legal & General. This donation means a great deal to the children of Derrymount. The coach will not only enable them to access more opportunities within and beyond the school community, but to provide them with increased opportunities to develop their confidence in travelling, to improve access to further experiences and activities which were previously limited to only a few pupils at a time.”

“The new bus will mean that more pupils and their families will be able to be supported to access individual and group learning experiences otherwise beyond their reach. The support of this coach will benefit not only our current pupils but those for several years to come”.

Keith Andrews, Variety’s Chief Barker, said:

“Since 1962, we have donated over 5,000 Variety Sunshine Coaches – that’s more than 100 a year. Variety’s specialist minibuses ensure that children can interact with the world around them and experience a fun, entertaining and educational environment, whilst ensuring they are transported as safely as possible.”

“With the support of organisations like Citygrove and Legal & General, Variety can continue to highlight that being disabled or disadvantaged need not be a barrier to getting the most out of life.”