School Bus

The Bus has Arrived!

25th May 2019

Following many discussions with First, Easton College and Kerley Recovery we all agreed on a date and came together on Wednesday for the buses arrival. We had the most humbling and wonderful afternoon watching these companies give up their time to help manoeuvre the bus into position.

Kerley arrived at the Vulcan Road depot as planned and by 12.30 the bus was parked up at Bawburgh Village Hall awaiting the go ahead to bring it down to the school. We arranged for the children to be there for its arrival and they thoroughly enjoyed sitting on the field to watch.

Getting the bus through the main gates was the first challenge and seeing the bus suspended on a really long boom from the back of the tow truck was incredible. Once through the gates the bus was then hooked up to Easton College’s tractor and the journey really began.

Squeezing through the gates onto the field was a tense moment, especially when there was a loud bang which sounded like a chain snapping. We all held our breath for a few seconds, but thankfully it was just the chain slipping from the tractor so it was re-hooked and off they went again.

Next came the pinch point which was the pesky bend in the bank! This as we expected did take some time and felt like a 400 point turn but the team were fab and worked tirelessly to make it work. The bus was rolled forward at an angle, then pulled to straighten it a bit and the process repeated quite a few times. The bank did attempt to put up a fight and had to be dug to free the bus in a few places, but after much shuffling they finally got it around the bend and then it was a straight run to get it pulled into its final resting place!

Kerley Recovery then spent another hour or so getting the bus on sleepers to make it safe, and sorting out internal parts which needed tidying up. In the meantime Easton College offered to let the children look at and go on the tractor!! The children thoroughly enjoyed this and took it in turns to “have a go”.

We are forever thankful and had the most awesome, humbling and heart-warming day watching all of these people work together and give up their time to help manoeuvre the bus into place. They were so professional and worked like troopers and a shining example of resourcefulness, collaboration, resilience and creativity!

Richard Jarmy kindly took photos for us and set up a time lapse of the whole process which you can view below, we hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

The Origin Story

25th January 2019
The Origin Story

“I’ve got an idea” Rachel said, explaining her elaborate bus idea to Kate.

“I like it, I reckon we could get a grant for that! Although this is becoming a habit” Kate said.

(Kate who is a grant sourcing mastermind has previously helped obtain a grant with other parents to get a new playpark for the village. They felt nothing could stop them!)

So they set to work looking for appropriate grants. With just days before the closing date they came across the Aviva Community Fund and decided they had no time to lose. In a coffee shop on Unthank Road (no doubt scoffing cake) their vision and The Bawburgh Big Ideas Bus was born! Never in their wildest dreams did anyone think that months later we would be where we are now, but with hard work from the staff, parents, village residents, family and friends the dream started to become a reality.

When Aviva let Kate and Rachel know they had been successful with the grant they really did have tears in their eyes, if only they knew the hard work was about to being…

So, yikes we won! What next?

Thanks to the brilliance of Kate and Rachel they were already on it, trying to source a bus, speaking to contacts, discussing cost where it should go etc. And then they asked me for some help which I’m sure they regret but they’re stuck with me now!

It was decided the ideal place for the bus was the unused wildlife area and specifically right up against the fence and as close to the school as possible. However there was a 14m x 5m x 1.2m dried up pond in the way. This is where I came in…. The school is within a conservation area so we needed to know if this would be a problem to use the area and backfill the pond, and also check there were no planning concerns. This did take a few weeks to sort and get the written consent from the council but once we had it, it was all hands on deck…….. Except for fact that we needed 70 tonnes of soil.

70 tonnes of soil turns out to be exceptionally difficult to get hold of, apparently moving that amount is not easy due to costs and permits etc. This did cause frustration but in true British style we weren’t going to give in and were gearing up to dig out various areas onsite. Then a last minute reprieve! On Monday 11th March two 32 tonne trucks turned up to deliver 40 tonnes of soil removed from the new Long Stratton Leisure Centre HURRAH!!

So back to the task at hand, we needed volunteers, tools and machinery to get the wildlife area cleared and the soil moved. Thankfully the parents, Miss Stedman and Clive stepped up. Clive worked like a ninja clearing brambles one evening and giving us a head start, also leaving us supplies to keep us fuelled over the weekend. On Saturday 16th March Miss Stedman kindly let us into school, trusting us to look after it and Mrs McGregor kept us well supplied with bacon sarnies! Everyone else cracked on with digging out various banks, clearing the brambles which were so thick I’m surprised we didn’t find Sleeping Beauty, cutting trees, and digging out the footings for the bus. What we all achieved in one day was incredible.

In the meantime…. Rachel and Kate invited me to see the bus with them. First Buses amazingly, are donating us a bus and bringing it to us. There are still a few hurdles to jump to actually get it to the school but it’s saving lots of money which can then go towards the actual transformation. We also have less than 30 days on the MOT for the bus to be driven to us, nothing like an incentive to get the job done!

18th March

It’s been an eventful week again this week, we were all aching from the weekend’s digging but happy with the achievement.

Monday 18th March, Easton College came in to prune the trees next to reception, whilst this was more to benefit the allotment area its ended up benefitting the wildlife area too and will only enhance the bus when it arrives.. everyone will see it!!

Thursday 21st March, we had a delivery of hardcore from Longwater Gravel and a very brave man who drove up onto the field much to the children’s excitement and then….got stuck getting out! Whoops! Thankfully some out of the box thinking and a few shovel loads of earth removed later and he was free! It did give us a good idea of where we would have issues though.

Rachel met First Buses at school on Thursday too so they could firstly check the best route for the bus to take through the Village and secondly look at the field. The good news was that they would be able to get the bus onto the field BUT the bank needs widening. (Not sure how Rachel classed that as good news, given the fact that in one foul swoop we were given hours more digging! Thanks Rach! However in true style CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!). The bad news was the bus is putting up a fight so the mechanics are having a few issues. We are very hopeful resilience on the mechanics part will prevail.

So to Saturday 23rd March… once again Miss Stedman’s trust was much appreciated as she let us loose at school again. Clive’s sheer stubbornness and willingness to help was fab too – the bacon sarnies were again much much appreciated as well as his many skills outdoors. A willing group of volunteers arrived ready for another day of hard labour.

The foundations for the concrete pads were done remarkably quickly. I’m not sure I’ve seen 6 tonnes of hardcore move so quickly! Thanks to Mr and Mrs Gower and their wacker plate which aided in the speediness. In the meantime Kate and I started on the bank which I had marked out. We discovered the ground was full of clay and compacted – queue mattocks! This ended up being like a scene from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs! I could almost hear Hi ho, hi ho it’s off to work we go as everyone was in a line digging with mattocks and pick axes.

At the turning point of the bus the fence juts out and to save us taking more earth out of the bank, it was suggested to temporarily remove the footings and push the fence back. After much debate Mr Gower and Chris Scott started this with a pickaxe and managed to get some of it out before calling in reinforcements in the form of Will Watchorn and his jackhammer. Will was fab and spent ages working on this, clearly the concrete didn’t want to budge but Will eventually won.

After what should have been a “short day” by 4pm we were all sore but had again achieved loads. Once again the children were really well behaved and very helpful. I’m pretty sure Clive may never want to leave the kitchen again too, but hopefully the combined effort has once again brought us a step closer to the buses arrival..

Next mission, concrete!

22nd March

This weekend (23rd March) we will be back onsite as Longwater are due to deliver 6 tonnes of hardcore which needs moving and the footings prepared for concrete to be poured. We therefore need help to move the hardcore so I apologise but there will be sore muscles again, but think of the pluses!

29th March

Following the previous weekends activity we needed to source concrete! Kate managed to get a donation from mobile concrete supplies which were due to arrive after school Friday. Following a tense wait (due to a hold up in traffic) the cement mixer arrived!

We were slightly nervous about it getting onto the field after we had already widened some of the bank, and unfortunately the driver did get stuck in several places. This just highlighted that we would need to take more of the bank out for the bus’ arrival. Thankfully some skilled driving and brute force prevailed and the driver managed to make it up onto the field and deliver the concrete. We now have 2 beautiful pads of concrete ready for the bus which has gone off perfectly, hurrah!

2nd April

First buses visited to check on progress and check the access was ok. They also confirmed the bank needed widening but said everything else was fine. There were no access issues which is great to hear so it’s now a case of pinning down a date which we hope will be over the Easter break.

More work…

Saturday 6th April we have organised for a mini digger to help us dig out the remaining chunks of bank and hopefully save another day of digging, but soil will still need to be moved. Another day of labour but we are so close!

We hope when everyone comes back from Easter the bus will be here… updates to follow..

Easter

Easter Frustration

Week 1

We hope you had a fab Easter break. We kicked off the holidays by moving yet more earth from the bank. Thankfully with the help of a mini digger supplied by M H Services, Matt cracked on quickly… also leaving lots of earth behind him to be shifted by hand. Once again though we had some amazing volunteers to help. We hope this time we are finally done moving soil from the bank…. But watch this space!

Week 2

We had hoped the bus would be with us this week, but every project has its set backs and this was one of those moments. We were told by First Buses on Wednesday they had a chap looking at the bus’s gears in a last-ditch attempt to get them working. By Friday it was clear the attempt had failed and we were given the option of waiting until September for a new bus or attempt to recover the bus we had been gifted. At cost.

I wont lie we were massively disappointed, we had hoped so much to be able to have the bus driven onto the field and into place. This set back left many uncertainties and questions. Are we going to wait? If we can get it to school how will it get onto the field? Will there be enough width for a tow truck to tow a bus? Was the bank wide enough? How much will it cost to have the bus towed? All questions which were being investigated and the project had stalled, quite literally. Time to review after the bank holiday.

30th April

Establishing the fact, we were going to need the help of a tractor, we asked Easton College to have a look and see what they could do. The Farm manager was on site within an hour of the phone call and assessed all possible options. Thankfully although still concerned about the pesky bank they were on board!! We still needed to check tow points on the bus and if the chassis was strong enough at the rear? Do the breaks work and if First will have a driver? Despite all this Easton were still happy to help us, amazing news! Who knew the three of us would ever have to learn so much about the mechanics of a bus!

In the meantime, both Kate and Rachel knuckled down and made some calls until someone offered to help tow our bus for free! We are waiting on some information from them, but it looks like we are back on with the original bus!

Let’s hope sheer stubbornness prevails and we can update you on the bus’s arrival. It’s certainly not been plain sailing, but it’ll mean so much more to everyone when its done.

I hope you enjoy following the story, there will no doubt be more hurdles to come but I can assure you, sheer stubbornness and perseverance will get us to our goal.

“I've got an idea” Rachel said, explaining her elaborate bus idea to Kate.

“I like it, I reckon we could get a grant for that! Although this is becoming a habit” Kate said.

(Kate who is a grant sourcing mastermind has previously helped obtain a grant with other parents to get a new playpark for the village. They felt nothing could stop them!)

So they set to work looking for appropriate grants. With just days before the closing date they came across the Aviva Community Fund and decided they had no time to lose. In a coffee shop on Unthank Road (no doubt scoffing cake) their vision and The Bawburgh Big Ideas Bus was born! Never in their wildest dreams did anyone think that months later we would be where we are now, but with hard work from the staff, parents, village residents, family and friends the dream started to become a reality.

When Aviva let Kate and Rachel know they had been successful with the grant they really did have tears in their eyes, if only they knew the hard work was about to being...

I hope you enjoy following the story, there will no doubt be more hurdles to come but I can assure you, sheer stubbornness and perseverance will get us to our goal.

Miss C. Stedman, Headteacher

The Bawburgh School, Hockering Lane, Bawburgh, NR9 3LR

Tel: 01603 742329 | Email: office@bawburgh.norfolk.sch.uk

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