Pupils keep on walking for 10 years
PUBLISHED: 10:38 28 May 2008 | UPDATED: 13:18 06 May 2010
A WALKING bus which set the wheels in motion a decade ago under a scheme that is now used worldwide, has celebrated its 10th birthday. In 1998 pupils from Wheatfields JMI in Marshalswick joined forces with Herts County Council s Safer Routes to School te
A WALKING bus which set the wheels in motion a decade ago under a scheme that is now used worldwide, has celebrated its 10th birthday.
In 1998 pupils from Wheatfields JMI in Marshalswick joined forces with Herts County Council's Safer Routes to School team to set up the innovative Walking Bus as a solution to the problems of the school run.
It has now expanded to the extent that there are 60 walking buses in the county, 700 across the UK and it has crossed continents and can be found as far away as New Zealand, Australia and Canada.
Among those who took part in the celebration was Jane King, who walked on the bus a decade ago, and the youngest member today, Helen Wallace, aged five.
Carol Laws, now Stewart, who was head of Wheatfields Junior at the time, recalled: "It was a parent who first expressed worries about traffic around the school so we decided to try to tackle it. But it was the pupils themselves who suggested the idea of a walking bus.
"It was such a simple idea which is why it appealed to people and why it has been picked up by schools around the world."
Lyndon Evans, the current head of the school, is proud of the fact that the walking bus is still going strong after a decade of unbroken service. He put it down to the dedication of the parents who were pivotal to the success of walking buses and expressed his gratitude for all the time and effort they had contributed to keeping the bus on the road for 10 years.
Coreen King was the mum who was instrumental in getting the first walking bus on the move. She explained: "I had two young daughters at the school and we walked every single day. It was just a small step from that to getting a rota of parents involved and soon we had 16 passengers aged between seven and 10.
"It was great fun; we walked whatever the weather and never broke down. I am so pleased that an idea which started in Herts has taken off and become internationally recognised as a safe way to walk to school"
The Wheatfields walking bus is currently organised by Ruth Wallace, mother of Helen and eight-year-old Sarah, who has devised a welcome pack and a "passport" which the passengers get stamped every time they catch the bus.
Ruth said: "I strongly believe in the value of walking and I think the walking bus sets in place healthy habits for life."
Walking buses are now officially recognised in national transportation policies and the Government gives special grants to encourage schools to set them in motion.