The Lord’s Taverners charity is putting 26 new, specially-adapted Ford Transit Minibuses on the road this year to help improve the lives of young people with disabilities and special educational needs.
The charity has provided more than 1,100 minibuses to special schools since its programme started in 1976, and will be donating a new minibus every fortnight during 2014.
The Lord’s Taverners’ Ford Transit Minibuses are used to transport children – many of whom use wheelchairs – to and from schools and colleges, helping them to participate in sporting activities that would otherwise be off-limits, including wheelchair basketball, boccia and table cricket.
“We provide special educational needs schools with the opportunity to meet their transport needs,” said Nicky Pemberton, director of charitable programmes for the Lord’s Taverners. “A minibus typically costs between £54,000 and £58,000 by the time it has been converted for wheelchair access and our programme enables a school to own its own vehicle – usually they make a contribution of around 25 per cent and we fund the rest.
“The minibuses operate for anything up to 10 years and, as we give away around 30 of them a year, there are probably between 210 and 250 Lord’s Taverners’ minibuses on the roads of Britain and Ford Transit is the ideal vehicle for the job!”
Ford also supports a Lord’s Taverners’ programme called “Wicketz”, which takes cricket to under-privileged kids in inner-city areas.
“We go into disadvantaged city areas where facilities are limited and encourage kids who are keen to play,” added Nicky, “and we take cricket to them – coaching, equipment and even a pitch if that is what is needed.”
The programme culminates in the three-day Wicketz Festival, held in August at Felsted School in Essex. Children receive cricket coaching and enjoy other activities, as well as the chance to compete for team honours.
Ford Regional Account Business Manager, Sally Overington, said: “The Lord’s Taverners does great work to help children with special educational needs to get out and about to broaden their experiences and horizons, and it is great that Ford can assist with these efforts.”