During the summer of 2015 following a successful Crowdfunding campaign, our 1963 Routemaster double decker bus was refurbished and transformed into the iconic Cookie Bar bus to begin its new life on the road. Since then it has attended a variety of shows, festivals and local events and always proves to be a popular choice for customers. The bus is part of COINS Foundation’s portfolio of social enterprises, with 100% of the profits going to both Stepping Stones School and other projects the Foundation supports.
Earlier this year, the bus made a trip to a local business park, an event supported by Symprove’s Barry Smith (who also drove the bus for us). As an extension of the Cookie Bar, the bus continues its association with Stepping Stones School and as a result students had the opportunity to work on the bus and to visit some of the businesses. The students talked with staff and owners telling them about their school, about the bus and finding out about the companies on the site – a valuable learning experience and they had fun too.
The Surrey Para Games (formerly known as the Waverley Para Games) is always a favourite with the Stepping Stones students. The multi-sport disability event is growing each year and is a great opportunity for the students to interact with other young people and participate in different activities. This year the bus was invited to serve coffee and cookies to spectators, volunteers and staff so it was fantastic to have students from the school staffing it.
The bus has had a busy summer and autumn, visiting fetes, running festivals, food festivals and music festivals. Its eye-catching design draws crowds and our fantastic coffee ensures that customers always leave with a smile. A quote from a recent event:
I asked around to find where to get a decent cup of coffee and was sent to you.
The weather has never deterred us and our intrepid volunteers greet each event with enthusiasm creating a great atmosphere for all. We’ve had everything from torrential rain at Frimley Park Music Festival, black clouds at the unsuitably named Always the Sun Festival to a beautiful rainbow and sunshine at Cowdray Park.
Whether we’re battling the mud or enjoying bright sunshine, the British ‘summer’ has thrown everything our way and throughout it all our volunteers have been invaluable. Not only do they work hard but they also keep coming back claiming that they’ve had a good time! There’s also the occasional opportunity for us to dress up when an event has a particular theme, an option that isn’t mandatory but is usually taken up (it’s not every day you can dress up as a cowgirl).
Although we’ve reached the end of our summer events we do have a few more planned for the autumn and winter to look forward to. With fireworks, Christmas lights and Christmas carols, we’ll be trying out a few new recipes with seasonal treats (and maybe a little mulled wine – it would be rude not to).
So if you’ve got a few hours to spare this winter why not come and join us? We always welcome new volunteers and who knows, you might even have fun!
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