A local school has a brand new minibus funded with the kind support of Variety, the Children’s Charity and St. James’s Place Charitable Foundation.

The Shrubberies School, in Stonehouse, caters for children and young people aged 2 to 19, with special educational needs.

Aidan Burnett-Herd of St. James’s Place Charitable Foundation, handed the keys of the minibus – Known as a Variety Sunshine Coach – to Jane Jones, the school’s headteacher, during a special presentation at the school on Tuesday March 19 2019.

“Everyone is thrilled with our new Variety Sunshine Coach,” enthused Ms Jones. “These are very difficult times for the school in terms of funding and we are so grateful to Variety and St. James’s Place Charitable Foundation for making it possible for us to continue to offer this aspect of our provision.
“We do not have any additional funds available in our own budget and so do rely on others’ generosity to provide enhancements such as a minibus.”
Although the Variety Sunshine Coach was officially unveiled this week, the school actually received it in January. Since then it has been used to whisk pupils off to a museum, to make repeat visits to the local shops and also the local swimming pool.
“In addition to regular trips, we are planning a residential trip to Macaroni Woods, in Gloucestershire, a trip to Barry Island in South Wales and a sailing course at Whitefriars Sailing Club, in Gloucestershire,” said Ms Jones, who revealed that the pupils are always excited to come to school when it is a ‘bus day’ and are always happy and engaged when out on trips.
Trips in the Variety Sunshine Coach will enable the school’s pupils to benefit from a rich and varied curriculum, which will equip them with skills that will be beneficial throughout their lives.

Malcolm Cooper-Smith, a Trustee of St. James’s Place Charitable Foundation, said: “We are delighted to have helped purchase this Variety Sunshine Coach for The Shrubberies School, and to help children such as those attending The Shrubberies. I’m sure they will make great use of the Coach for many years to come.”
Mr Cooper-Smith and Mr Burnett-Herd were joined at the coach presentation by Paul Summersall, a colleague from St. James’s Place Charitable Foundation. Variety was represented by Danielle Roche, its Corporate Partnerships Manager.

Ms Roche, said: “We are extremely grateful to St. James’s Place Charitable Foundation for helping to fund this Sunshine Coach for The Shrubberies School.
“These coaches, often regarded as ‘mobile classrooms’, give pupils with additional needs the opportunity to experience active learning and develop life skills outside of the school environment.”
Staff, parents and local businesses contributed to the cost of the school’s Variety Sunshine Coach by raising funds during activities such as quiz nights and a festival.