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Buster battles the Empire

By Liz Nicholls

The force was strong in families across Kent as they set a new record for the biggest walking bus on Saturday (May 12) at Buster’s Big Bash.

Martin Vye of the KM Charity Team waved the chequered flag while UK Garrison Stormtroopers, Buster Bug, and Gerald Giraffe headed up the record-breaking walking bus. (1969084)
Martin Vye of the KM Charity Team waved the chequered flag while UK Garrison Stormtroopers, Buster Bug, and Gerald Giraffe headed up the record-breaking walking bus. (1969084)

The regional record attempt involved 329 people who marched through Canterbury city centre singing a special song trumpeting the virtues of walking to school.

Families using the green travel scheme Active Wow (Walk on Wednesday) or the reading reward scheme Buster's Book Club were invited to the annual event.

After the walk everyone returned to the Dane John Gardens where children took on a variety of activities in return for a goody bag full of prizes including a family skate or swim voucher from Active Life, an Orbit squashee, Whitefriars books, and leisure attraction tickets.

The fun included space hopper racing hosted by Specsavers, ‘beat the goalie’ run by Canterbury Eagles football club, Atlantis Go-Karts, Active Life yoga, and circus skills with Paul Incredible of Kinetic Circus.

The Lord Mayor, Cllr. Mrs. Rosemary Doyle and The Lady Mayoress, Mrs. Jenny Yonge judged the Best Dressed Teddy competition and three youngsters won teddies donated by Wildwood Discovery Park, with the overall winner also taking a Wildwood family voucher.

Lucky programme competition winners scooped prizes including a day trip to Bruges for two, donated by YMS Group, a family cinema ticket or a £125 spectacle voucher, supplied by Specsavers, and a Canterbury Monopoly game donated by Whitefriars.

Twelve youngsters were awarded best flag prizes of bags of goodies provided by Tiger and Smiggle Canterbury.

YMS Travel brought Mabel the Routemaster bus and children clambered aboard to find the answers to a quiz. They were also invited to name two new coaches with the winner receiving £250 worth of private coach hire for their school.

A fire engine provided by Kent Fire and Rescue was a popular destination for wannabe fire fighters, as was the police car – and youngsters gleefully high-fived the two Police Community Support Officers.

The KM Charity Team’s literacy ambassador Emily Guille-Marrett from Reading Fairy, together with Sita Turner from Baby Sensory, brought stories, song, and dance to the bandstand to the delight of an audience of youngsters.

The record-breaking walking bus marched through Whitefriars in Canterbury as part of Buster's Big Bash. (1969086)
The record-breaking walking bus marched through Whitefriars in Canterbury as part of Buster's Big Bash. (1969086)

There were giant games including Jenga and Connect 4, provided by Golding Homes, and a cadre of UK Garrison Stormtroopers, complete with commanding officer, patrolled the event – but they were kept in check by the mighty Buster Bug.

Children painted bug designs on stones to hide around the county for a social media campaign called #BusterBugRocks. Volker Highways officially launched its Name the Gritter competition and children dreamed up monikers as they coloured in gritter pictures.

Fruit bags and drinks supplied by McDonald’s were handed out by youngsters from Canterbury Eagles FC.

The free festival for families was organised by the KM Charity Team, with support from IMP, to celebrate the success of the charity’s green travel and literacy services for schools in the South East.

Simon Dolby, chief executive of the charity, said: “We are delighted that Buster’s Big Bash is such a hit with families each year, attracting record-breaking numbers for our walking bus challenge.”

He added: “We are so grateful to our key partners involved with this free event, including Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, for helping us to make it possible.”

The KM Charity Team’s green travel work is supported by Whites Transport, Ashford International Hotel, Orbit, Volker Highways, Countrystyle Recycling, Golding Vision (part of Golding Homes), Specsavers, Eurostar, Kent County Council, Medway Council, London Borough of Bexley, Three R’s Teacher Recruitment, Whitefriars, Maidstone Borough Council, and Ashford Borough Council.

Active Wow has been rebranded as Super Wow for next term and schools signing up by July 1 will receive a 20% discount and go into a prize draw to win 400 books. Visit www.kmwalktoschool.co.uk/wow or contact Sarah Clyne at sclyne@thekmgroup.co.uk or call 0844 264 0291.

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