Back to June 2018

West Denton school presented with Variety Sunshine Coach

A West Denton school has been presented with a Variety Sunshine Coach, thanks to a donation from Leeds Building Society.

The Thomas Bewick School is an all-age specialist provision in Newcastle for 180 children and young people, from three to 19, with autism and associated communication, interaction and inclusion problems.

The brand-new Sunshine Coach will replace the school’s existing minibus, which has been used for 15 years to transport pupils to events and activities in the local area.

The children will use the coach five days a week to take the children to swimming lessons at pools in Newcastle and Gateshead, horse riding lessons at the Pegasus Centre in Morpeth, also to visit museums, cafes, parks and beaches. The activities provide the children with positive social situations to help them develop social skills and confidence.

The Leeds Building Society team up with Variety, the Children’s Charity, to provide the coach for the school. Variety, seeks to improve the lives of young people who are sick, disabled or disadvantaged.

Diane Scott, headteacher of Thomas Bewick School, said: “Our school is delighted to be receiving a new Sunshine minibus from Variety, and would like to thank Variety and the Leeds Building Society for their generous donation. 

“Having this new minibus allows us to continue to give our pupils the opportunity to access the wider community and this in turn contributes towards their becoming independent learners. 

“We currently have 6 minibuses and will be looking to retire our oldest, longest serving bus.  Our pupils and staff appreciate the donation of a new minibus and are grateful for the continued opportunities it will help to provide to our school.”

The Variety Sunshine Coach is the fifth to be donated by Leeds Building Society thanks to its members using the Society’s ‘Your Interest In Theirs’ scheme.

Through Your Interest In Theirs members can give the pence amount of interest earned each year through their Leeds Building Society savings accounts to charity.

Luke Wellock, Corporate Responsibility Manager at Leeds Building Society, said: “Our members have made a significant contribution to our fundraising efforts for Variety over the years. This is the fifth bus to be donated to organisations across the country that make a difference to people’s lives.”

Colleen Ettridge, Head of Fundraising at Variety, the Children’s Charity, said: “We are very grateful to Leeds Building Society for providing Thomas Bewick School with a Variety Sunshine Coach. The coach will enable children and young people with special needs to get the most out of school life by accessing learning and recreational facilities outside of the school environment.”


Notes to Editors

About Leeds Building Society

Leeds Building Society operates throughout the UK, Gibraltar and Ireland and has assets of £18.5bn at 31st December 2017 (£15.9bn at 31st December 2016). The Society’s head office has been based in the centre of Leeds since 1886.

About Variety, the Children’s Charity

Variety, the Children’s Charity, believes that neither disability nor disadvantage should prevent a child from realising their full potential. Since setting up its UK division in 1949, the charity has raised over £200 million and supported over 800,000 children affected by ill health, disadvantage and disability.

Variety was launched in the United States in 1928. It has charities across more than 10 countries (United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Jersey, Republic of Ireland, Israel, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Australia, Barbados, and Eastern Caribbean) helping children at the local community level.

With a focus on helping children make the most of their childhood, Variety provides support through four core programmes:

Mobility - providing specialist equipment including customised electric wheelchairs and bespoke Sunshine Coaches for schools ensuring children develop a greater sense of freedom and adventure

Health - equipping children's hospitals with the latest medical technology and life changing aids

Education - equipping Youth Clubs and young people’s organisations – facilitating new skills and developing greater self-worth

Variety Great Days Out - providing new experiences through educational programmes and exciting outings

Variety is a registered charity in England and Wales (209259) and Scotland (SC038505)

For more information or to donate to Variety, please visit

Follow Variety, the Children’s Charity on twitter @VarietyGB or

About Thomas Bewick School

Thomas Bewick School is an all age specialist provision in Newcastle upon Tyne for 180 children and young people, with age range 3 to 19, with autism and associated communication, interaction and inclusion problems. The school's aims centre around helping the children become independent learners so they can value themselves whilst enjoying being part of and contributing to the wider community.