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Oakwood Academy pupils ready to take to the road with a Sunshine Coach

Variety, the Children’s Charity, today presented its bespoke Sunshine Coach to the pupils of Oakwood Academy in Eccles, Salford.

The specially designed vehicle, which has been sponsored by St. James’s Place Foundation, will be used to transport the children on a number of educational and social outings.

Oakwood Academy is a school entirely dedicated to the needs of its pupils aged between 9 and 18 years, all of whom are diagnosed with a range of moderate to complex learning difficulties. The new Variety Sunshine Coach will offer these children the opportunity to experience the outside world in a safe and secure way through a number of trips and activities. The coach will be used on school days and for afterschool and holiday clubs, truly benefiting pupils at Oakwood Academy.

The Sunshine Coach was donated by the foundation, which has pledged £340,000 over the next three years to part-fund 20 more life-changing coaches across the UK. The Foundation has always been incredibly generous in their support of the Sunshine Coaches; between 2002 and 2005 St. James’s Place Foundation donated an incredible 17 sunshine coaches to schools nationwide. Mark Longbottom, Head of the St. James’s Place Foundation said: “The St. James’s Place Foundation is a proud supporter of Variety and together we are committed to improving the lives of children and young people, especially those who face significant challenges in life.”

Mrs Amanda Nicholson, Oakwood Executive Principal, said: “We are extremely grateful for this donation from Variety and St. James’ Place Foundation. The coach will provide Oakwood pupils the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities that otherwise would have been inaccessible to them, enriching their lives enormously.”

Pamela Sinclair, Variety’s Chief Barker said: “Since 1962, we have donated over 5,400 Sunshine Coaches – that’s more than 100 a year. Variety’s specialist minibuses ensure that children can interact with the world around them and experience a fun, entertaining and educational environment, whilst ensuring they are transported as safely as possible. With the support of organisations like St. James’s Place Foundation, Variety can continue to give disabled and disadvantaged children and young adults the ability to get the most out of life.”

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SalfordOnline.com's Local History Editor and Senior Reporter.