Gilbertstone Primary School in Yardley now has its very own big red bus, thanks to dozens of enthusiastic volunteers at National Express West Midllands. Workers at the bus operator have refurbished one of their old redundant buses and turned it into a fun school library.

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The school, which already features a colourful character called Gilbert the Bus on their website, had always dreamed of having a real-life bus of their own.

“We never really thought it would ever happen,” said Head Teacher Ceri Crosskey. “Until, that is, we contacted our new friends at National Express West Midlands. They have all worked so hard to make our dreams come true.”

The Optare Spectra H43/29F DAF-bodied double decker (former fleet number 4010), had reached the end of its working life and was destined for the scrapyard. After nearly 20 years’ service, it had travelled over a million miles and carried over three million passengers on routes all over Wolverhampton and Birmingham.

“We get a lot of strange requests for bus donations,” said Frank Palmer, National Express’ Paint Unit Supervisor. “But with Gilbert the Bus already in place as the Gilbertstone school mascot, a few of us got together to see how we could help.”

Dozens of engineers, service support and trim shop employees all volunteered their own time to replace panels, change windows, rub down bodywork and repaint the whole bus.

To celebrate the arrival of their big red bus, complete with big eyes and smiley mouth, Gilbertstone Primary School invited some of the National Express team along to say thank you. There they met up with hundreds of pupils, parents and friends of the school for a fun-filled event of music, songs and a Gilbert the Bus cake.

Labour MP for Yardley Jess Phillips was also on hand to cut the official opening ribbon, saying: “It’s great to see a local business like National Express working in partnership with Gilbertstone School in this way. I know that this is just one of many wonderful community activities that the company does to help local people gain apprenticeships, develop work skills and take up employment.”