Schools bronze accolade for bike scheme

Willingdon SustransA PRIMARY school has become the first in East Sussex to achieve an award which recognises its ‘green’ travel credentials.

Willingdon Primary School, in Eastbourne, received the Sustrans School Mark Bronze Award, which recognises outstanding effort in promoting sustainable travel among children, parents and staff.

Since March last year the school has been part of the Bike It initiative, organised by the charity Sustrans and funded by East Sussex County Council, which aims to increase the numbers of pupils cycling, walking and using scooters.

Events organised at the school over the past year, led by the school’s ‘bike champion’, Sarah Miller, have included skills sessions, rides, assemblies and curriculum activities.

Meanwhile, a series of popular ‘bike breakfasts’ have been held, one of which was attended by more than 230 pupils, parents and teachers who all cycled to school for a hearty breakfast.

Cllr Carl Maynard, county council lead member for transport and environment, said: “Encouraging more children to cycle and walk has great benefits for the environment and health.

“Achieving bronze award status is a great achievement for Willingdon Primary and I’d like to pay tribute to everyone at the school who has made the initiative such a success.”

Judith Cooper, head teacher at Willingdon Primary School, said: “We’re always looking for ways to promote sport and the Bike It scheme seemed like a really good initiative, to encourage children to use their bikes and scooters.

“The children really like it and the parents do too as they see it as a good sporting activity – everyone has really joined in and shown great enthusiasm.

“We’re really pleased and proud to be the first school in East Sussex to achieve the bronze award and we now want to go on and an achieve silver status.”

The Sustrans Bike It initiative has enlisted more than 2,000 schools across the country, with 28 signed up in East Sussex.

The project is one of a number of measures implemented by East Sussex County Council after it secured more than £4 million from the Department for Transport in June 2012 as part of the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, to support access to jobs and education in the county.

Photo: Willingdon Primary School head teacher Judith Cooper with pupil Alfie Stretton and the bronze Sustrans School Mark Award.