Dave Cartwright

14th May 2004 at 01:00
Dave Cartwright drives a special bus for Ashlands primary school in Ilkley, Yorkshire.

Dave's yellow "banana bus" provides a unique service to children and families in this small moorland town. It is full every weekday, transporting up to 20 children to and from Ashlands, plus pupils from three other primaries. School run traffic has been much reduced, children make a wider circle of friends and parents are happy.

Dave the driver has a register and all the parents' mobile phone numbers.Armed with a clipboard, he personally escorts his charges to and from the school gates. He calls his passengers "my team" and they decorate their bus with posters. Parents, who pay 25p a day, can wait with their children - some as young as four - at various stops around the town.

"Dave is fantastic. He's calm, cool, collected and co-operative. The children love him to bits," says headteacher Jenni McDonough, who nominated him for our flowers, champagne and chocolates.

The pilot scheme, supported by Bradford education authority, started less than two years ago after parents and governors at Ashlands decided to draw up a transport plan. They wanted a safe, environmentally friendly service that would be a boon to working parents and to the town generally. Cycling to school was part of the plan, so proficiency classes were set up and a bike shed built.

"Dave's very security conscious and he won't move if there's a child not accounted for," says Ms McDonough. The school overlooks the Yorkshire Moors but only one day of snow disrupted the bus this winter. "He was on the phone within minutes so everyone knew what was happening."

Before it started, children were invited to come and paint the bus, and at the launch its nickname was announced - with a banana for everyone. It's a service everyone's talking about.

Is there an unsung hero in your school? Tell Sarah Bayliss, TESFriday editor, about him or her at the address below. Flowers kindly supplied by Marks amp; Spencer

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