By Jacob Phillips, Local Democracy Reporter
A Westminster primary school is set to welcome children to a new library on a London bus.
Students at St Mary Magdalene and nursery children have been treated to the new cartoon-themed bus after five years of fundraising.
The school’s new £50,000 Rastamouse-themed bus will help teach its 236 children to read.
School business manager Sandra Simpson said: “Our old library was a corridor. It was a link from the main hall to the stage one classroom.
“It has been fun. It has been a labour of love but it has been really stressful as well.
“We didn’t realise how much damage there was. When we had [the bus] refurbished the floor was cracking.”
The idea for a London bus to be converted into a library was first mentioned in the school’s staff room nine years ago by teaching assistant Lauren McElwee.
But the project has had all sorts of setbacks since then.
The school, which cares for children aged two to 11, managed to buy a class double-decker Bristol VR bus for just under £10,000 – but it arrived in a poor condition.
The top floor of the bus was so damaged it had to be reduced in height by three inches while the bus’s paint had begun to flake.
But thanks to an extensive fundraising effort – including a £10,000 grant from Westminster City Council and a further £10,000 from the Derwent London Community Fund – the school was able to fund the extensive repair works.
The bus has been kitted out with bookshelves, air conditioning and heaters and has been given a £539 cartoon makeover.
Now the school – which is looking after 23 Afghan refugees – is asking for book donations to provide children with books to read.
Headteacher Tonnie Read said: “It has been five very long years, but we are finally, with the help of so many wonderful people, able to make our library bus dream a reality.
“We are looking forward to inviting local families to enjoy the library – a real community project.
“What a great way to continue to develop and grow the children’s passion and enjoyment for reading.”
Pictured top: Michael DeSouza, creator of Rastamouse officially opens the Mary Mags Library Bus.
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