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Primary school receives new minibus

A local primary school has received a donation of a minibus to be used for school trips in the community, thanks to the year-long fundraising efforts of a local hotel and golf club. 

Thorpeness Hotel and Golf Club has donated a three-year lease of a 17-seater minibus to Leiston Primary School.  The generous support by the club’s members and guests will also cover the vehicle’s servicing, MOT checks and road tax.

The ‘On Course for the Community’ project was launched by the club during its centenary celebrations last year.  When searching for the right cause, Christine Langford, Director of Golf at Thorpeness, approached former Club President, David Morsley for assistance. Alongside the school it was decided that pupils would benefit from having their own dedicated minibus for use on outings, enabling the children to get out into the community without the cost of hiring a vehicle. 

Custom painted with new livery, the minibus from local dealership, Victory Car Sales,

features colourful images of Thorpeness Golf Club, the village and its Meare, making it easily recognisable as it travels around the local area. 

Christine Langford said “This partnership has only been made possible by, and with, sincere thanks to everyone who participated in our various events throughout our centenary year run by our pro shop, this includes our members as well as nearby golf clubs such as Aldeburgh and local businesses.

It was clear to see from the start of our fundraising efforts that this cause was close to the hearts of many members who had connections with the school, whether that be running local businesses in the area or even attending the school themselves. 

The beautifully decorated bus will be seen throughout the local community. It is hoped that as well as providing transport for the pupils, it will also serve as a reminder that Thorpeness Golf Club and Hotel, part of the Hotel Folk Group, is a local business that engages with the community, and a company which offers a myriad of opportunities for enjoying leisure time and career development.”

With Christine, the initiative was supported by former pupil and General Manager of Thorpeness Golf Club and Hotel, Jenny Hill.

“I have many good memories of my time at Leiston Primary School”, said Jenny. “I am delighted to now have the opportunity to give something back to the school, which plays an important role in the early years of our future local community where our hotel and golf club is located.” 

James Ratcliffe, Executive Headteacher for East Anglia Schools Trust (EAST) who is the trust for Leiston Primary School, said; “We are extremely grateful to Thorpeness Golf Club and everyone who contributed to make this possible. It is so important for children to be able to get out and about in their local community (and beyond), to give first-hand experiences which improve their learning and outcomes going forward. With the cost of travel increasing, having our own means of transport will ensure current and future pupils continue to receive those opportunities. Thank you once again, for such generous support.”

Fundraising began with a Golf Day, which was well supported by members and local businesses. The annual East Region PGA Pro-am also raised funds courtesy of a hole in one competition sponsored by Victory Car Sales. 

The pro-shop at Thorpeness has been involved in introducing pupils to the game of golf. Junior Golf Coach and PGA professional Daniel Skriabin has hosted two taster sessions for year 4 classes, with over 40 pupils taking part in team games and challenges such as hitting the ball as far and straight as possible. It is hoped the children will have sessions at the Club in 2024 – arriving in style by their minibus. 

Martin Webb is a keen amateur golfer and has been the editor of Suffolk Norfolk & Essex Golf Magazine since 2023.

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