Kind readers help buy vital minibus for Keighley school

Keighley News: Jason Patefield (centre back), of Phoenix School, holds the keys to the new minibus with (from left), pupil Ben Ridehalgh, ten; Chris Kelly, treasurer of the Variety Club’s Yorkshire committee; pupil Charlotte Savage-Tatterton, eight, with her mum, Elai Jason Patefield (centre back), of Phoenix School, holds the keys to the new minibus with (from left), pupil Ben Ridehalgh, ten; Chris Kelly, treasurer of the Variety Club’s Yorkshire committee; pupil Charlotte Savage-Tatterton, eight, with her mum, Elai

A special school is celebrating after taking delivery of a brand new minibus – partially funded through a Keighley News appeal.

Caring readers helped raise £24,000 towards the cost of the specially-adapted vehicle, which will enable Phoenix School to take wheelchair-bound pupils on trips.

Previously, the 30-or-so youngsters in wheelchairs at the Braithwaite Avenue, Keighley, school have missed out.

The remainder of the £45,000 needed to buy the new, 16-seater Fiat Ducato 40 Maxi ‘Sunshine Coach’ has been provided by Variety, the Children’s Charity.

“It’s fantastic to have the vehicle – it will make such a huge difference to us,” said Jason Patefield, the school’s community co-ordinator.

“It means our wheelchair users will be able to join in with a range of activities, including educational visits and trips out into the community. This will help to develop their social skills.

“We’d like to say a huge thank-you to everyone who supported the fundraising, and to Variety for what it has done. It’s incredible.”

Staff at the school – which caters for 78 pupils, aged up to 11, with a wide range of needs – have undergone training on using the vehicle, and it has been in service this week for the first time.

Readers rallied round by staging various fundraising events and making donations to the appeal, which was launched at the start of last year.

Keighley News editor Richard Parker said: “We’re delighted Phoenix School has finally got the minibus it so desperately needs.

“Once again, our readers’ generosity knows no bounds and we thank them all for their support.”

The Variety cash was coined in when a team of businessmen – including two members of the charity’s Yorkshire committee – took part in last year’s Great North Run, together raising £20,000.

A spokesman said: “Since the programme started more than 50 years ago, Variety Sunshine Coaches have become a symbol for what children and young people can achieve when they are given the opportunity to explore the wider world.”

The charity is also funding a sensory pool, which will be installed at the school during next week’s half-term holiday. Visit variety.org.uk for further information about Variety, the Children’s Charity, and its work.

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