THANK you Gazette readers!
That was the heartwarming message as a Fylde school took delivery of its new £34,000 minibus.
William’s Wish, a Gazette campaign which began as an appeal to raise £2,500 for a bed for Red Marsh school pupil William O’ Brien, quickly smashed its target – and kindhearted readers ran, baked and danced their way to raising money for the bus.
The 17-seater Fiat Ducato, which has been adapted to take up to five wheelchairs, arrived after half term, to the delight of the 77 pupils.
Catherine Dellow, headteacher at the school, on Holly Road, Thornton, said: “We can’t wait to finally start travelling around – we have a lot of trips planned.
“We are so grateful to The Gazette, who instigated the campaign, and its readers, who worked so hard to fund raise for us.”
The first trip on the new bus will be a residential visit to the Wingate Centre in Cheshire, where pupils will take part in gymnastics classes, other sports and cookery classes.
Other planned events include a visit to Chester Zoo, a candle-making factory and Stapeley Water Gardens.
William’s mum Louise Russ, of Wareing Drive, Thornton, said: “I can’t believe the generosity of everyone in the Fylde coast.
“Some gave a small amount, other raised thousands, but it all added up to the school being able to get a new bus which allows more children to get out in the community.”
Fundraisers included Big One Productions, who staged two shows for the appeal, the Blackpool and Fylde Ladies Tea Club, who held various bake sales and lunches, the Artificial Eye Centre in Bispham, which raised more than £700, and the Castle Gardens pub, which held a sponsored space hop down the Promenade.
Pat Mancini and the Queendeans Association, through The Variety Club, also donated to help buy the bus.
Ian Squire, deputy headteacher of Red Marsh, said: “People were so generous we had some extra money to convert the new bus.
“We have put in foldaway seats and extra tracking for clamping wheelchairs, making it very wheelchair accessible and versatile.
“We have also been able to buy sensory equipment for our hydrotherapy pool and sensory room, which we are refurbishing.”
And the fun doesn’t stop there for the youngsters – the school has just had a new playground fitted, as part of their Great Outdoors project, with a basketball game, adventure trail and new pathways