Families from across the county plus special guests kicked off national Walk to School Week by setting a new record on Saturday (May 18).
Altogether 330 children, parents and carers marched through Canterbury high street as part of the free mini-festival Buster’s Big Bash, organised each year by educational charity the KM Charity Team with support from Independent Music Productions.
Waving the chequered flag was Julia Honour from Specsavers Canterbury branch, joined by Diggerland mascots Duggy and Dotty, and of course Buster Bug.
The force was strong in participants brandishing homemade green travel flags and banners as they celebrated creating Kent’s longest walking bus – all under the watchful eyes of two Stormtroopers from UK Garrison.
The event promotes the virtues of green travel and is a thank you to the families participating in the KM Charity Team’s services for schools Walk on Wednesday (Wow), Green Footsteps, Walking Bus, and home reading programme Buster’s Book Club.
After the walk children completed activities at Dane John Gardens in return for goody bags of treats from Whitefriars, Vattenfall, Orbit, and Three R’s Teacher Recruitment.
Challenges included a balance bike adventure course run by Primary Sports Giants; Atlantis Go Karts; circus skills with Paul Incredible; giant Connect 4 and skittles with Golding Vision; Kent Sport netball; Specsavers Spacehopper races; ‘beat the goalie’; and Active Life Yoga.
Also generating excitement was a fire engine from Kent Fire and Rescue, a Kent Police patrol car, and a Tesla supercar supplied by Diggerland. Plus YMS Travel brought Mabel the classic Routemaster big red bus for children to explore.
Youngsters planted seeds at the paper potters stand, unleashed their inner artist painting stones for the #BusterBugRocks social media campaign, and collected fruit bags and drinks supplied by McDonald’s.
Sheriff of Canterbury, Cllr Jeanette Stockley, welcomed the crowds, judged the Best Dressed Teddy contest and joined in the fun trying out circus skills.
Event host and CEO of the KM Charity Team, Simon Dolby, announced the winners of the day’s competitions. Clinching Best Dressed Teddy prizes were Elsa, eight, from Herne Bay; Meggie, 11, from Luddenham School in Faversham; Amy, seven, from Great Chart Primary School in Ashford; Samuel Gurwe, six, from St Michael’s RC Primary School in Chatham; and Riley, five, from Lansdowne Primary School in Sittingbourne.
The Best Banner prize went to Harry Craig, five, from Rye Community Primary School in East Sussex.
Lucky Programme winners were George Danes, four, from Rainham; Ace, eight, from Ramsgate; and Danni Jago, nine, from Sittingbourne.
Prizes included gifts from Whirligig in Canterbury and vouchers for Diggerland, Canterbury Tales, and Canterbury Treasure Trail. Hornby supplied a Junior Express Train set and YMS Group donated music lessons.
Mr Dolby said: “It is a pleasure to welcome families Kent-wide to Buster’s Big Bash – many of whom come back year after year – and we are delighted to set another record for our walking bus challenge.
“We are so grateful to our key partners involved with this free event for helping us to make it possible.”
The event concluded with a teddy bears’ picnic and a performance from Paul Incredible of Kinetic Circus.
Organisations supporting the KM Charity Team’s work with schools include the Kent, Medway, Maidstone, Ashford and Bexley councils along with Ashford International Hotel, Volker Highways, Countrystyle Recycling, Rotary, Acorns Read and Grow, Crown Foundation, The Gibbons Trust, Eurostar, Gatwick Airport, The Ernest Cook Trust, Little Cheyne Court, Kent Community Foundation, Historic Dockyard Chatham, The Education People, Wildwood, Leeds Castle, and Whites Transport.
Businesses interested in working with the charity can contact Mr Dolby on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07989 164 752.
Schools will receive a 20% discount on Active Wow for the next academic year if they join before the deadline of July 1. The scheme aims to promote a healthier lifestyle, reduce traffic congestion, and improve safety at the school gate.
For details of Buster’s Book Club, visit www.BustersBookClub.co.uk