By: Keith Morris
There was a double decker celebration at St Thomas More Catholic Primary School in Peterborough, on Friday January 26, when the Bishop of East Anglia, Rt Rev Alan Hopes blessed the school's new library bus and officially opened and blessed an extended the St Thomas More Catholic Nursery.
The red double-decker London bus was blessed by Bishop Alan as a new library space for the 420 children at the school, after a search to find one was organised and led by Deputy Headteacher Becky Dickson.
"It is really important to us to raise reading standards," said Becky. "We wanted a designated library space, but did not have enough room in school. We came up with the idea of having a big red bus. Year 1 read a book called Naughty Bus, which is about a big red London bus which goes on an adventure, as part of their thematic work on Transport and Year 6 study London in their themed lessons, so only a big red London bus would do!"
Becky liaised with Terry Austin, Head of Engineering at Stagecoach London, who arranged to kindly donate the bus to the school. Wayne Allen, the Commercial Manager at Alexander Dennis Ltd, refurbished the bus to a high standard including seating, reading spaces and bespoke book shelves and astonishingly freely donated their time and services. Sovereign Recovery then towed the completed bus from London to Peterborough at no charge to the school
"We are really appreciative of the companies involved generosity. The long awaited arrival of the bus on December 8 was a really special day for us," said Becky. "The children, who have been fundraising to pay for the base for the bus and for books to put in it since December 2016, cheered the bus onto the school site.
"The aim of the bus is to motivate pupils and encourage a love of reading. This combined with high quality teaching of reading will raise reading standards across the school," said Becky
St Thomas More Catholic Nursery, which is run by manager Christine Kurys, has been extended and refurbished thanks to a £350,000 grant from the Department for Education
Headteacher and Chair of the Nursery Committee, Anne-Marie McElhinney, explained "Helen Bates from the Diocesan schools' team helped us to bid for the DfE funds, which has helped us to completely refurbish the nursery and increase its capacity from a 9am to 3pm 75-place nursery to an 8am to 6pm 150-place nursery."
It was officially opened and blessed by Bishop Alan during his visit to Peterborough.
"Our school is a thriving and diverse community with 28 different languages. We are all just one big family from all over the country and all over the world and God meant us to be here in this place at this time and that is what we live by," said Anne-Marie.
"These two new additions will help secure good or better outcomes for our families and the additional opening hours of the nursery will support our working families."
As well as blessing and opening the bus and the nursery, Bishop Alan celebrated Mass at the school. In his homily, he told the children: "Just like the new nursery and the big red library bus, we each need to build our lives on solid foundations and the surest foundation we must have is that of Jesus Christ, his family and his church. If we have Jesus guiding us through our lives, whatever we do we will have a sure foundation and will be able to survive all the storms of life."
Read more about St Thomas More school here: www.st-thomasmore.peterborough.sch.uk