SIDMOUTH Primary School got just what it wanted for Christmas this week when a cracker of a cash boost made its minibus dream come true.

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An £8,000 pledge from the Keith Owen Fund has driven the Herald’s Campaign 2012 from near the half-way mark to over the finish line – and in the nick of time.

Hard-working PTFA members - backed by the community - had raised a remarkable £12,000 in a year but were resigned to continuing their efforts into 2013.

But Sid Vale Association leaders, who hand out Keith Owen money, had a change of heart over an application for funding when they realised how the bus would benefit children. The school can now place an order for a £20,000 vehicle.

“It’s absolutely brilliant news just before Christmas and right at the end of the campaign,” said PTFA chairman Sarah Fletcher.

“It was a bit worrying that we were only half way towards our target, so to get this is a big relief.

“It’s quite an achievement in the current [economic] climate.

“I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the amount of support we’ve had from the outside community. It’s nice to know people still support youngsters and the school.”

Headteacher Paul Walker said a minibus would transporting pupils to get out and about more and reduce car journeys in the town.

“It will improve what we can offer the children no end and make a huge difference,” he added.

He praised the ‘tremendous’ job done by Sarah and the PTFA.

The Reverend Handel Bennett, chairman of the Keith Owen Fund, said an approach from the minibus campaign was initially deemed ‘misplaced’ as it was thought the education authority should provide such a vehicle.

However, the matter was reconsidered.

“We learned support was being sought for a new and welcome initiative,” said Rev Bennett.

“The minibus will provide easier mobility of pupils from the three school sites, enabling a better use of time in tuition.

“It would also provide flexible school trips to points of interest within the Sid Valley.

“The fund was delighted to support this project with £4,000 per year over two years.”

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