My Tuesday guest featured today is not only a talented children’s author but also a fellow Chindi member and local friend. Sue has come along to share an article written especially for this blog, titled The Bewbush Playbus. Over to Sue.
The Bewbush Playbus
Have you ever travelled on a bus? This was a question I’d ask the children when visiting their school. It was always a surprise to hear that many hadn’t. I’d then tell them how I’d once worked with a special bus, a Playbus, and how I was writing a book all about it.
When the Bewbush Playbus book was first published I was able to show them photographs of the real bus. This would follow with lots of questions.
What’s a Playbus?
What does it do?
I was able to explain how the bus was a pioneering project with royal links, a Queen’s Silver Jubilee Community Project, and the first in the South-East. The bus was converted at Gatwick Airport and given the name ‘Supersonic Bus’. It initially provided a playscheme to the new developing estate of Bewbush.
How was it different?
The bus didn’t have any seats. Instead it was full of toys, games and activities and driven to children, wherever the need may be, and was often seen at events in and around Crawley.
The children’s games were always full of imagination. They loved the bus, including my own two children who attended the Playbus Playgroup.
I became involved in the running of the Playbus charity, helping to raise its profile. With fund-raising and grant applications we were looking to upgrade our old bus with a newer model, which we eventually did.
The photographs in the Bewbush Playbus book were from exhibition displays and private collections and highlighted all that we did or could offer.
We also joined the National Playbus Association charity, through which we met many other Playbus projects, and learnt how much more a Playbus could do.
Unfortunately in 2003 the Playbus closed and I was asked to document its photographic history into a book. A copy of the Bewbush Playbus book, published in 2012, was donated to every school in Crawley as well as the local museum. It was an important part of the town’s social history.
Most importantly for me it led to answering the children’s questions with stories and this led me to writing and publishing picture books using a bus theme. Jay-Jay the Supersonic Bus was the first fictional tale and tells how the Playbus came about, his real number plate JJK 261 gave him his name.
The Playbus really captured my heart and it has been lovely to hear from many children, now grown up, who have fond childhood memories of their time spent on it.
Thank you, Sue, for such an informative article where the reader is able to see how the real playbus inspired you to write your children’s bus series.
Age range for Sue’s children’s books – 4 – 8 years
The above books may be purchased from Sue’s website.
Let’s find out a little more about Sue.
About the Author
Sue Wickstead is a teacher and author. She has currently written seven children’s picture books using a bus theme as well as a photographic history book about the real bus.
Sue once worked with a playbus charity based in Crawley. This led her to write the photographic history book about the project. Bewbush Playbus was published in 2012. She later wrote a fictional tale about the bus. Jay-Jay the Supersonic Bus, his number plate JJK261 gave him his name. This has been followed by six more picture books which all have a bus connection and link to her teaching journey.
You can find Sue on the following links