A Variety Sunshine Coach has been presented by Alan Clinton, Assistant Manager from BJ’s Bingo in Leigh on behalf of the Bingo Association to pupils and staff at Rowan Tree Primary school in Atherton. This Sunshine Coach is the 34th donated by The Bingo Association in the past five years. Also, in attendance at the presentation were BJ’s Bingo Operations Manager, Lee Rich, and Deputy Manager Jenny Brocklehurst.

Left to right – Eddie (coach driver), Jenny Brocklehurst (Deputy Manager BJ’s Bingo), Liz Loftus, Alan Clinton (Assistant Manager BJ’s Bingo) and Lee Rich (Operations Manager BJ’s Bingo)

Rowan Tree Primary school is a community special school for pupils aged 4 – 11 years. All pupils have an Educational Health Care Plan and require highly specialist teaching due to their severe and complex needs. At present, there are 116 pupils on roll. The school provides a broad, balanced and highly personalised curriculum, tailored to meet the very specific needs of our pupils. As well as teaching the National Curriculum there is a very strong focus upon the development of play, communication, social skills, life skills and emotional wellbeing.

The new Sunshine Coach is needed so that the school can continue offering plenty of learning opportunities to their students and encourage a better life, thus developing their confidence and social skills. It will be used every day to take pupils on educational trips, sports activities, swimming lessons, golf, bowling, walks, local parks, shopping, educational tours, residential visits, and local clubs.

Left to right -Alan Clinton, Liz Loftus, Jenny Brocklehurst and Lee Rich

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 educational and recreational days out and allow children to explore places they would otherwise never have visited.

Liz Loftus Head Teacher at Rowan Tree school said: Due to the pandemic, we have not been able to deliver activities and lessons off-site and children have been unable to apply skills learned in school to new more challenging community contexts. Having a new minibus to enable us to re-introduce a large part of our curriculum is fantastic. We have all missed it so much: its importance has been further heightened. The focus at Rowan Tree is on pupils and family’s well-being. If we can teach and support pupils to access community facilities, then we are reducing their anxieties about going to new place and doing new things. Having a minibus to get us around and about opens new possibilities not just for pupils but also for their families. We cannot overstate how important it is to the well-being of the whole school community. This new larger minibus means we can get more pupils involved in the community more regularly, including those pupils who travel in wheelchairs, as the tail lift on our old minibus was unreliable and prevented us from using it for all pupils. It was wonderful to know that BJ Bingo and Sunshine Coaches have worked together to enable us to get this brilliant new vehicle and can’t thank them enough for their generosity.

Left to right Alan Clinton, Lee Rich Liz Loftus Jenny Brocklehurst

Miles Baron, Chief Executive of The Bingo Association said: I would like to thank BJ’s Bingo who are representing the industry today, for the incredible support and generosity of their customers and staff. Customers from bingo clubs across Great Britain have made this very worthy donation of a Sunshine Coach possible. We have now raised £1.6 million for Variety in the past five 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.

Andrew Tattershall – General Manager of BJ’s in Leigh said: BJ’s Bingo were delighted to nominate a local school Rowan Tree Primary school in Atherton to receive a Variety Sunshine coach, we were pleased that the bus was handed over late last year and are now delighted that we can make the formal presentation in person, it is the 34th Variety coach that has been donated as a result of fundraising by the Bingo Association and its members. Thank you to all of our staff and customers, for their support over the years in helping raise much needed funds for such a worthy charity.

Left to right -Jenny Brocklehurst, Lee Rich, and Alan Clinton

Lyn Staunton Development Director Variety NW said: We are delighted to present one of our Sunshine Coaches today to Rowan Tree School and would like to thank The Bingo Association for their huge generosity in making this possible.

Every new Sunshine Coach on the road is a step towards our goal of improving the lives of disadvantaged and disabled children across the UK. These coaches enable children and young people to get the most out of school life by providing access to recreational facilities outside of the school environment that they would otherwise not have the opportunity for.

The support of The Bingo Association’s members and customers has funded 34 Sunshine Coaches in the past five years, making a real and tangible difference to thousands of disadvantaged and disabled children around the UK.