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Ceremony celebrates unveiling of new school library on double-decker bus

PUBLISHED: 16:25 27 June 2018 | UPDATED: 12:35 28 June 2018

Staff, pupils and guests celebrate the unveiling of 'The Knight Bus' Picture: PHELAN CONSTRUCTION

Staff, pupils and guests celebrate the unveiling of 'The Knight Bus' Picture: PHELAN CONSTRUCTION

Archant

Pupils and staff at a primary school near Sudbury have celebrated the unveiling of a new library – which has been built inside a retired double-decker bus.

Staff, pupils and guests celebrate the unveiling of 'The Knight Bus' Picture: PHELAN CONSTRUCTIONStaff, pupils and guests celebrate the unveiling of 'The Knight Bus' Picture: PHELAN CONSTRUCTION

The bus found its way to the Pot Kiln Primary School in Great Cornard from Hedingham’s Tollesbury bus depot in Essex, which permanently closed two years ago.

The double-decker has been named ‘The Knight Bus’ in memory of a popular teaching assistant at the school.

Miranda Knights died in July 2016 after working at the primary school for ten years, and her husband, Mark, and daughter, Charlotte, were given the honour of cutting the ribbon at the opening ceremony on Monday.

Toni Kittle, headteacher, said: “At Pot Kiln Primary, we often refer to ourselves as a ‘kilnies’.

Headteacher Toni Kittle inside the new bus with pupils Picture: PHELAN CONSTRUCTIONHeadteacher Toni Kittle inside the new bus with pupils Picture: PHELAN CONSTRUCTION

“One of the best ‘kilnies’ we ever knew was Miranda Knights. Miranda worked at Pot Kiln for over ten years - her last post being as a learning supporting assistant with our younger children. Miranda sadly passed away in July 2016.

“The school, therefore, saw it fitting to dedicate the bus to Miranda’s memory and we are delighted to formally introduce ‘The Knight Bus’ to staff, students and the community.”

From September, the school will be engaged in an approach called ‘Thrive’ – which provides a way of working with children to support optimal and emotional development.

In addition, the approach can enable staff to work with children who may have struggled with difficult real-life events.

Company volunteers who worked to make the bus a reality Picture: PHELAN CONSTRUCTIONCompany volunteers who worked to make the bus a reality Picture: PHELAN CONSTRUCTION

The project was made possible thanks to the generosity of many individuals, groups and companies who pulled together to bring the bus to life.

The school’s PTA group – the Friends of Pot Kiln – initially sourced the double-decker and donated a large amount of funding.

The Sudbury Rotary Club and the Arts Society of South Suffolk provided further funding and children from the school were involved in the design of the outside of the bus, as well as pitching their ideas for the ‘chill-out’ areas inside.

The primary school then enlisted the help of local experts to make the dream a reality – all of whom offered their specialist services, expertise and materials for free.

The school worked with KLH Architects and Phelan Construction and the two companies rallied even more support from their network and supply chain.

Ceetech Limited donated ten days of qualified labour for electrical installations and Edmundson Electrical donated £1,000 worth of materials.

Other generous suppliers who donated to the bus were Travis Perkins, Kent Blaxill, Speedy Hire, Tiger Supplies, Brysons, City Electrical Factors, 2020 Furniture Design, Forbo Flooring, Advanced Waste Skips, J and TM Autos, and Signs Made Easy.

Droves of volunteers from KLH Architects, Phelan Construction and Ceetech Limited were sent in over the course of five days to complete the project.

Jon Wynne, senior contracts manager of Phelan Construction, said: “It was the Phelan team’s pleasure to be a part of this project.

“It was so great to see our staff, directors included, being hands on in making a real, positive impact in our region – it’s certainly something we will do more of in the future.”

More than 300 pupils at the school came out of their classrooms to see the ribbon-cutting ceremony for their new double-decker library.

Honoured guests invited to the event included representatives from many of the companies involved in the project, such as Alan Wilkinson from KLH Architects, Tony Birkin from Phelan Construction, Nick Green and Kane Manning from Ceetech, Steve Button from Edmundson Electrical and Patrick Moran from 2020 Furniture Design.

Local dignitaries in attendance included Stewart Sheridan, chairman of Great Cornard Parish Council, Pam White of the Great Cornard Parish Council and councillor Peter Beer.

Also Sally Noble, chairman of the Arts Society South Suffolk who helped fundraise for the project along with the rotary club, and Jeff Coward, engineering manager of Hedingham & Chambers (Go East Anglia) who donated the bus.

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