6th December 2018

Pupils and guests gathered in excitement at South Devon College’s Brunel Centre, Newton Abbot on Thursday 6th December 2018 to witness the big reveal of the ‘Friendship Express’ trains.

Having gained inspiration from the ‘Friendship Bench project in 2015, South Devon College made initial contact with local primary schools about the idea of creating a new series of enjoyable playground apparatus in a fun, caring and inspiring way. Presented with wooden timber material, kindly donated by Inter-line Building Supplies South West, the trains’ structures soon took shape through the efforts of the College’s Level 1 and 2 Construction students. Reaching almost 18ft in length, several of the trains consisted of three sections, a front engine, middle wagon and rear carriage with roof.

The trains were then brought to life with an array of eye-catching and vibrantly painted designs by creative pupils from nine local primary schools including All Saints Marsh Church of England Academy, Charleton Church of England Academy, Dunsford Community Academy, Ellacombe Church of England Academy, St Marychurch Academy, Teign Academy, Thurlestone All Saints Church of England Academy, Warberry Church of England Academy, and West Alvington Academy, with each train’s design offering a unique expression to the messages of friendship and togetherness.

In order to be involved in the project, each primary school held their own competitions to find the top twelve artistic pupils who with the generous support of Brewers Decorator Centres who supplied the paint, soon got to work on their designs. For each of the nine trains, the roofs have been painted in a separate colour to specifically to represent the individual schools.

Witnessing the reveal (left to right), Stuart Bulmer (Director of Operations Learning Academy Partnership), Lynn Atkinson (Chief Executive Officer Learning Academy Partnership), Alex Welsh (Inter-Line), Sally Henley (Newton Abbot Town Development Manager), Ms Garside (Head of Academy All Saints Marsh Academy C of E), Gemma Parker (Inter-Line), David Dance (South Devon College), and Becky Webb (Senior Administrator, All Saints Marsh C of E Academy)

South Devon College Centre Manager for Construction and Built Environment, David Dance said, “This has been a wonderful project for all involved. For the construction students here at the College it’s been a chance for them to gain invaluable first-hand experience whilst producing something lasting for the schools which will be enjoyed by all. They get to try their hands at all trades from painting, to roofing, carpentry and flooring – giving them clear guidance on which trades they could find success with in the future”.

South Devon College Construction Student Owen Day added, “I’ve really enjoyed working on the trains due to the different aspects involved. We’ve been painting, sanding and trying our hand at carpentry. It’s given me experience of different trades and I can’t wait to see the reaction from the school children once it’s finished”.

South Devon College student Owen Day 

Now completed, the trains will have new homes in the playgrounds of their respective primary schools. Whilst many pupils will soon enjoy climbing on top of them, the trains have also been designed to benefit pupils in many other ways. Created in response to national anti-bullying campaigns, the trains will also act as a safe area for pupils who may feel isolated or upset, with teachers spotting those in need of help with ease.

Principal of South Devon College, Stephen Criddle OBE, said, “It’s brilliant to see the collective hard work from our Construction students and staff alike as well as the great creativity of local primary school pupils. The trains are a fantastic showcase of the emerging talent and skills shown by our Newton Abbot campus students and it is very evident that hours of dedication have gone into each train. Here at the College we’re always keen to get involved with the local community and it’s been a pleasure to work so closely alongside the nine primary schools”.

Senior Administrator, All Saints Marsh Church of England Academy, Becky Webber said, “It’s been a pleasure to witness the great finale of the trains. Having followed the projects evolution from original paper sketches to final wooden apparatus, I join the many school children here today excited to see their use in the playground”.

Chief Executive Officer, Learning Academy Partnership and All Saints Teaching School Alliance, Lynn Atkinson adds, “Our schools feel really privileged to be involved with and to be the beneficiaries of this exciting community project. Our children are bursting with excitement and can’t wait to try out the friendship trains when they find their home in our schools. I am sure that they will be the talking point for years to come and a hugely valuable resource that will be treasured by our children for years to come. We can’t thank everyone enough”.

To find out more about wide variety of courses the College offers from apprenticeships to full-time courses or university degrees, visit our next Open Evening on Thursday 24th January 2019, 4pm-7pm at the Vantage Point Campus, Long Road, Paignton, TQ4 7EJ. Alternatively, you can call our Helpzone team on 08000 380 123 or email [email protected]

For more information about this story please contact Guy Marsden, Marketing & Communications Officer at [email protected] or on 01803 540563.

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