Bank's bus appeal boost

ONE of the country's biggest banks has backed the Mail's Buy A Bus Appeal.

We reported how kind-hearted staff at Cheltenham and Gloucester (C&G), in Newcastle gave up their Christmas cash to help the appeal.

C&G comes under the umbrella of the Lloyds Banking Group and as part of an employer scheme it has match-funded the 60 that was raised to take the donation into three figures.

The six women at the C&G office, in Ridley Place, Newcastle, each gave a tenner rather than buy a Secret Santa gift and their head office has now doubled that to 120.

The women heard about the appeal through the Mail's Paul Watson and after reading a series of articles on our website had no hesitation in putting their pressie money towards the cause.

The PlayBus scheme is run by the Hartlepool Families First charity, which provides a range of much-needed services across the town, although the current vehicle is on its last legs.

The Mail launched the appeal to raise enough cash to buy a replacement for the outdated 25-year-old Leyland Olympian bus, which is struggling to keep to its timetable and provide a trustworthy service because of mechanical problems, including a dodgy gearbox and broken generator

More than 5,000 children used it last year and for some youngsters it is their only chance to play in a safe and supervised environment.

The bus is only used when static so is safe for children. But it is struggling to take to the road on a regular basis and keep to its timetable. Hartlepool Families First manager Paul Thompson praised the Lloyds for their goodwill gesture.

He said: "Banks are not renowned for giving away money in the current climate and while some people might think it is it just 60 it is a real boost to the appeal. Every penny is a step closer to buying a replacement bus and this total of 120 is brilliant.

"Away from the financial side it also shows that people do appreciate the benefits of the PlayBus."

No target is being set for the appeal as the charity will be grateful to buy the best bus it can with whatever money is raised, but suitable replacements are on sale for around 12,000.

For more information about the appeal, contact Paul Watson, head of news, Hartlepool Mail, on (01429) 239361 or email paul.