New minibus boost for Sheringham Woodfields School

Pupils at a north Norfolk special school were due to start the spring term this week with a brand-new minibus to ferry them to and from educational trips, treats and residential visits.

The Variety Club Sunshine Coach was delivered after a four year-plus campaign by Sheringham Woodfields School to fund half the �32,000 cost of the vehicle, with the rest donated by The Co-operative.

It was officially handed over just a day after a bus in regular use by the school's 90 pupils, aged two to 19, was trashed by vandals.

Staff arrived at school one morning in the last week of term to find the Norfolk County Council vehicle, kept at the school, with its windows smashed, and seats and internal lights ripped out.

Alternative transport, at extra cost, had to be hastily arranged so that older pupils didn't miss out on a Christmas trip to Norwich that day, according to school manager Matthew Smith.

'It caused a big headache and it couldn't have happened at a worse time. It was such a shame.' said Mr Smith.

The new 17-seater coach will open fresh opportunities for the school's most profoundly disabled pupils because it includes a tail lift for transporting wheelchair users, enabling them to take part in activities which were previously hard to arrange due to transport difficulties.

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The Variety Club approached the Co-op to sponsor half the cost and the rest came from school fund-raisers such as fetes and quizzes, and donations from organisations and individuals including North Norfolk Rotary Club, Keith Woodcock and his wife, and Clive Hay-Smith.

'This is a real 'feel-good' factor for the start of term,' said Mr Smith. 'The new coach will really benefit pupils. It's already booked this week.'