Nu-Venture donates double-decker bus to Five Acre Wood School for children with special needs

Children at a special needs school have something to look forward to – their own bus.

Norman Kemp, the owner of the Nu-Venture bus company, has donated a double-decker to Five Acre Wood School in Boughton Lane, Maidstone.

Norman Kemp joins pupils aboard the bus
Norman Kemp joins pupils aboard the bus

The school trustees intend to fit it out as a soft play area for the children, while retaining the cab area intact so that the youngsters can be given lessons on how to board a bus, ready for the day they might need to do so in the real world.

School trustee Dave Smith said: “There will also be a part that will be a sensory area, for quieter times for the children. There is so much we can use it for.”

The bus was built in Northern Ireland and had been in service in London from 2006 until 2021, when it was acquired by Nu-Venture.

Mr Smith said: “The kids are just going to love it and have already been asking when they can go on.”

The school has satellite sites at Palace Wood School in Maidstone, at both The Holmesdale School and St Katherine’s Primary Schools in Snodland, and at Oxford Road in Shepway.

Peggy Murphy
Peggy Murphy

In all, there are 850 pupils, aged between three and 19.

Peggy Murphy has been the school principal for the past 15 years.

She said: “I’d like to say thank you to Nu-Venture for donating us this wonderful bus, that we are going to use as a soft-play facility area for our young people with special needs.

“We do have a soft play room at the moment, but we have an awful lot of children who need to use it.

“What this is going to be is another another soft play facility where children can go and learn to help each other, interact with each other, and have fun.”

School principal Peggy Murphy accepts the keys to the bus from Norman Kemp
School principal Peggy Murphy accepts the keys to the bus from Norman Kemp
Nu-Venture boss Norma Kemp with pupils by the bus he has donated
Nu-Venture boss Norma Kemp with pupils by the bus he has donated

“But also we’ll be able to use it outside of school time as well, because when the school is closed, we might be able to use it for parties.”

The bus is a Volvo low-floor double-decker, refurbished in 2012. In its previous life as a red London bus, it operated from garages at Camberwell and Bexleyheath.

Repainted in Nu-Venture green, it then ran from Kings Hill to Central Maidstone before it succumbed to engine failure. New engines are very costly so it was decided to retire it from active life.

Mr Kemp said: “A chance call from Five Acre Wood – looking for a static bus – came at just the right time for us to save the bus from the scrapyard and donate it to the school.

“As well as helping with technical advice to make the double-decker fit for the new static role that the school is planning, Nu-Venture hopes to work closely with Five Acre Wood in future to develop older students' confidence in using the bus for everyday needs such as to and from employment or study opportunities.”

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