SAFC stars open new library at school as double-decker bus is transformed

Football stars helped youngster brush up on their reading skills in a special visit to open a new library.

Coordinator at AkzoNobel Jody Graham and her son Max, and Stagecoach operations manager Janine Fowley, with Sunderland AFC players Lynden Gooch and Jack Rodwell.
Coordinator at AkzoNobel Jody Graham and her son Max, and Stagecoach operations manager Janine Fowley, with Sunderland AFC players Lynden Gooch and Jack Rodwell.

Sunderland AFC players Jack Rodwell and Lynden Gooch visited Westoe Crown Primary School, in Sea Winnings Way, South Shields, after the much-needed facility was provided for pupils.

It comes after a project which started in March 2015 to transform a double-decker bus into a library was finally completed.

It had stalled because of a lack of funds, but coatings and chemicals company AkzoNobel donated just under £8,000 to get the project on the road, paying for an electrician to install lights and sockets, and a handyman to remove the seats, and put flooring down and walls up.

After that, 22 employees from the company's Felling site gave up their own time to help paint and decorate the bus.

The school did not previously have a library, and books were stored in a corridor without seats.

Jody Graham, a technical co-ordinator at AkzoNobel’s Felling site, said: “My son Max started at the school in September and I heard about the bus project and decided to see how I could help.

"AkzoNobel really encourage employees to bring colour to their own communities as part of their Human Cities initiative so I decided to apply for funding to see if we could help out.”

The bus was donated to the school by Stagecoach North East in 2015.

Pupils were asked to choose the decoration themes, giving the bus a unique layout.

A beach and nautical theme features on the downstairs of the bus, and upstairs is split into three different areas: ‘We are one world’, which focuses on books and learning of all cultures and nationalities, a ‘Super Hero’ zone which features comics, and a ‘Places your Mam won’t let you read’ zone which includes a toilet and bathroom theme.

Mr Rodwell and Mr Gooch were invited to officially open the library as they play for Max's favourite football team, Sunderland.

Steve Price, the school's headteacher, said: "We have been overwhelmed by the support received from Jody and other friends and families who have helped with this creative project over the past two years

“A special thanks to AkzoNobel, Stagecoach North East, Northumbria Water and Snugfit in helping to make our dreams come true – 700 little hearts are definitely beating faster at the thought of being able to use our very special library bus!”

Max, aged four, said: "I think it’s great.

“My favourite bit is the super heroes and that the Sunderland players came down to open it for us. My mum is great for organising it all!”

Janine Fowley, operations manager for Stagecoach North East’s South Shields depot, said: “We’re thrilled to have helped deliver this creative and inspiring learning environment for the children at Westoe Crown Primary School.

"Learning should be fun and exciting; this is an important initiative and a great way to use bus vehicles that have come to the end of their normal service.

“Our bus network connects communities across South Shields and we always try our best to support projects which will benefit the local community - especially when it comes to youth learning and development - it feels brilliant that we are helping to make a real difference to so many youngsters at Westoe Crown Primary School and we really hope that it will continue to inspire generations for years to come.”