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Phelan volunteers transform a bus into a school library!

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On Monday, 25th June, Pot Kiln Primary School in Sudbury celebrated the opening of its brand-new school library. Teachers and pupils of Pot Kiln couldn’t have been more delighted with this new addition; the original library had unfortunately been demoted to a corridor because of the school’s growth. 

It’s not just your standard library though; instead, it has been built inside a retired double-decker bus from Hedingham’s (Go East Anglia) Tollesbury bus depot, which shut down permanently in 2016. The retired bus has made its final stop at the primary school to serve as a library and soft chill-out area for its pupils, helping to put reading at the forefront of their learning. Its secondary purpose is to serve as a therapeutic environment for pupils, as from September, the school will be engaged in an approach called "Thrive". 

The project was made possible thanks to the generosity of many individuals, groups, and companies who all came together to help bring the project to life. The school’ s PTA group ‘Friends of Pot Kiln’ were the initial catalyst to the project, sourcing the double-decker bus. They also supported the project by donating a large amount of funding, followed by further funding from both the Sudbury Rotary Club and The Arts Society of South Suffolk. 

Pot Kiln Primary School then enlisted the help of local experts to make the dream a reality – all of whom offered their specialist services, expertise, and materials for free. The first architects the school approached, KLH Architects, were immediately onboard with the idea. Senior Architect, Alan Wilkinson was particularly enthused by the project saying, "this project provided us with an exciting opportunity to do something a bit different to our usual building projects and the idea that we can create an environment that will benefit the young pupils, is such a positive thing to be involved In. We were delighted to become involved.” 

The school also worked with Phelan Construction, a leading main contractor based in the East of England working across multiple sectors. Phelan Construction loved the idea of the bus and readily offered their services free-of-charge. With KLH Architects, the two companies rallied even more support from their network and supply chain. Generous companies like mechanical and electrical specialists, Ceetech Limited donated 10 days of qualified labour for electrical installations or Edmundson Electrical, who donated £1000 worth of materials. 

Other generous suppliers who donated to the bus were; Travis Perkins, Kent Blaxill, Speedy Hire, Tiger Supplies, Brysons, City Electrical Factors, 2020 Furniture Design, Forbo Flooring, Advanced Waste Skips, Axle Support: J and TM Autos and Signs Made Easy. 

Droves of volunteers from KLH Architects, Phelan Construction, and Ceetech Limited were sent in over the course of five days to complete the project.

Senior Contracts Manager of Phelan Construction, Jon Wynne said “It was the Phelan team’s pleasure to be a part of this project. It was so great to see our staff, directors included, being hands-on in making a real, positive impact in our region – it’s certainly something we will do more of in the future.”

At 2:15 pm, over 300 pupils from Pot Kiln Primary came out of their classrooms to see the ribbon-cutting ceremony for their new double-decker library. Honoured guests invited to the event included representatives from many of the companies involved in the project, such as Alan Wilkinson from KLH Architects, Tony Birkin from Phelan Construction, Nick Green and Kane Manning from Ceetech, Steve Button from Edmundson Electrical and Patrick Moran from 2020 Furniture Design. 
 
Local dignitaries in attendance included Stewart Sheridan, Chair of Great Cornard Parish Council, Pam White of the Great Cornard Parish Council and Councillor Peter Beer. Also Sally Noble, Chairman of the Arts Society South Suffolk who helped fundraise for the project along with the Rotary club, and Jeff Coward, Engineering Manager of Hedingham & Chambers (Go East Anglia) who donated the bus. 
 
Surrounded by the pupils of the school council, Toni Kittle gave a speech thanking all the volunteers, fundraisers and individuals who were involved with the project, and enthused about what this library meant to the school, then finally introducing the two most important guests, Mark and Charlotte Knights.  

Mr. Knights and his daughter were given the honour of cutting the ribbon in memory of Wife, Mother, and special person to the school, Miranda Knights. As Toni Kittle notes, “At Pot Kiln Primary, we often refer to ourselves as a ‘kilnies’. One of the best ‘kilnies’ we ever knew was Miranda Knights. Miranda worked at Pot Kiln for over ten years - her last post being as a Learning Supporting Assistant with our younger children. Miranda sadly passed away in July 2016. The school, therefore, saw it fitting to dedicate the bus to Miranda’s memory and we are delighted to formally introduce ‘The Knight Bus’ to staff, students, and the community.” 

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