Innovative reading bus project receives Royal passenger

Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Rothesay saw firsthand today (Thursday January 20) how a local project has been highly successful in promoting literacy when she stepped on board the Reading Bus at King’s College, University of Aberdeen.

The Reading Bus aims to promote reading as a source of life long pleasure; raise attainment and achievement of children at risk of early failure; encourage family learning in a non-school environment; involve and empower parents in their children's learning.

Its initial focus was in the St Machar area of Aberdeen however since its launch in August 2006, over 32,000 learners and a wide variety of visiting contributors have been on board this revolutionary vehicle. 

It is a multi-agency partnership between Aberdeen City Council’s schools, local libraries and colleagues working in adult learning, family learning, community learning and development, with support and input from school liaison police officers, the arts education team and arts development team, storytellers and authors.

Accompanied by the Lord-Lieutenant of Aberdeen Peter Stephen, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Rothesay watched author Sheena Blackhall read excerpts from her book ‘Millie’, a picture book in Doric to a small group of children on the bus. 

The Duchess also called at various ‘bus stops’ in the Linklater rooms, King’s College,  where children demonstrated the work they have been doing as part of various projects. 

The event was an opportunity to highlight the fantastic work done by the Reading Bus which includes:

  • Reading Radio – each week a live one hour radio show is broadcast by pupils on SHMU 99.8FM.  Thanks to funding from Children in Need and in partnership with SHMU Radio, Rich Langham has joined the project as a reading radio development worker. Led by pupils the  workshops will help other pupils to create jingles and record interviews with other pupils;
  • Moving Flicks – an animation programme which thanks to £30,000 recently received from TAQA Britani Ltd, an oil and gas Exploration Company based in Aberdeen, 18 schools and over 400 pupils will have the opportunity to create films by working as part of a team with storytellers, artists, musicians and animators.  The finished films will be showcased at a series of film festivals in May 2011;
  • A Journey through Old Aberdeen – a Heritage Lottery Funded project that involved eight schools researching different aspects of the rich history and culture of Old Aberdeen, working in partnership with the University of Aberdeen. 

Lord-Lieutenant of Aberdeen Peter Stephen said: “On behalf of the people of Aberdeen I am delighted to welcome Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Rothesay to the city.  

Everyone involved in these projects which Her Royal Highness visited is bound to be thrilled at having the opportunity to highlight the work and benefits to those that are part of these initiatives.”

The Reading Bus founder and development worker Jenny Watson said:  “The Reading Bus was delighted to host a Royal visit and to welcome Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Rothesay to share the fantastic work of The Reading Bus.   

“The children will remember this day for the rest of their lives.”

Professor Ian Diamond, Principal of the University of Aberdeen said: “The Reading Bus does a fantastic job in inspiring young people in a wide range of educational activities.

“It is an integral part of the Schools’ and Children’s Festivals at Word – the University of Aberdeen’s Writers Festival – and something we are proud to support.

“Engaging children in education at a young age is vital and the Reading Bus has been hugely successful when it comes to firing the imaginations of young people and providing a step to lifelong learning which may include time at university

“We were delighted to welcome The Duchess of Rothesay to see the innovative work going on here in Aberdeen.”

Leo Koot, managing director of TAQA Bratani said: "Moving Flicks is a fantastic project that aims to bring together young people with professional artists to create bespoke animated films. We are delighted to be able to provide the funding for this worthwhile project and to enable Moving Flicks to set itself up as a long term, sustainable social enterprise.  Supporting the Reading Bus is a great opportunity for TAQA to give something back to the region and to make a real impact on our local communities."