Charity bus adventure from Norfolk to Africa back on after being ruined by A11 fire

Eunice Kokrasset, centre, landlady of the Crown at Smallburgh, with Eileen Cole, left, and Pam Dean,

Eunice Kokrasset, centre, landlady of the Crown at Smallburgh, with Eileen Cole, left, and Pam Dean, and the double-decker bus at Smallburgh for their charity trip to Africa. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

A dream trip to west Africa for 18 regulars and their landlord at a north Norfolk pub is just weeks away - despite their first donated red double-decker bus catching fire on the A11 three months ago.

The Smallburgh2Abidjan community group's replacement bus, which was gifted to them by Norwich-based Omnis, is now on its way to The Ivory Coast instead.

It was placed on a low-loader near the Crown pub in Smallburgh before being driven to Tilbury docks.

Packed with educational books, scientific equipment, sports kits and clothing donated by a range of sponsors and local people, the bus will leave Tilbury on October 11, and arrive at the port of Abidjan in the west African country 18 days later.

It will be followed on November 5 by a group of 18 people from the pub who will travel from Heathrow via Brussels airports to the country.

It's the brainchild of the pub's landlady Eunice Kokrasset, 34, who grew up in Abidjan, where she studied law at university.

She wanted to repay the hospitality shown her by the tight-knit village community when she arrived, by showing locals her homeland.

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The group will spend two weeks in the Ivory Coast and will travel in the bus around the country delivering the 325 boxes to schools and those in need.

She was concerned when the first bus went up in flames in July, and said: 'I cannot believe the bus is going and we're only a month away from the trip. It seemed so long ago when we planned it and then the first bus caught fire. We are finally going.'

One of those accompanying her will be university student Katie Cole, 22, who will be travelling with her parents Eileen and Les, from Dilham.

She said: 'I cannot wait for it; it's the trip of a lifetime.'

Events to fundraise £25,000 to get the group and their bus to Africa have been taking place over the last few months.

The group hired Rainthorpe Transport from Grantham to collect the bus and take it to Tilbury.

It had been parked on the Crown pub car park but the low-loader could not access it from there, so it was driven to the Smallburgh village hall site, before its departure.