Story teller takes children on a trip on school coach

Storyteller Michael O'Leary with, from left, Thomas Mansfield, six, Abdulaziz Almuhareb, seven, Abigail Bacon, six, and Elsa Lake, six

Picture: Sarah Standing (170135-1810)
Storyteller Michael O'Leary with, from left, Thomas Mansfield, six, Abdulaziz Almuhareb, seven, Abigail Bacon, six, and Elsa Lake, six Picture: Sarah Standing (170135-1810)
Rae Bryden, manager at Joules in Gunwharf Quays, who was the Manager of the Year winner and was runner-up in the Fashion Store of the Year category at The News's Retail and Leisure Awards in 2016.  Picture: Sarah Standing (170883-5016)

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IT’S normally their means of transport to and from school.

But a group of lucky children turned a bus into a magical storytelling den and took a trip to Madagascar instead.

Pupils from Years 1 and 2 at St Jude’s CofE Primary School in St Nicholas Street, Old Portsmouth, got to experience the magic of literature onboard a luxury 53-seater coach, thanks to a donation from a coach firm.

The event was held to mark National Storytelling Week.

Pupils were treated to a morning with a professional storyteller onboard a coach belonging to Fareham firm Lucketts.

The first tale was an adventure that began in the Isle of Wight and took the children all the way to Madagascar, even as the coach stood still. The children were charmed by the tales of professional storyteller Michael O’Leary, whose numerous props delighted his audience.

‘I loved his story about Madagascar the best,’ said Elsa Lake, six. ‘I wasn’t scared at all and I loved his crocodile, I thought it was going to bite somebody.’

Group sales and marketing director Paul Barringer said that National Storytelling Week was an opportunity for the firm to give back to the community.

‘School travel is one of the most fun and rewarding parts of what we do,’ he said. ‘We often see children develop and grow over the years as they move from primary school through to secondary and college, and we hope the pupils enjoyed the performance.’

Teaching assistant and librarian Hayley Stallard said that as well as wowing students, there was an educational benefit to National Storytelling Week.

‘Reading is key to a child’s development,’ she said. ‘It’s the foundation of learning. Being part of the story, like today, will invigorate them.’

Storyteller Michael, who has been telling stories as his job for 22 years, said: ‘I’m lucky to have a job that fulfils me, even if it doesn’t make me rich.

‘Hopefully my enthusiasm can be passed on to a younger generation.’

Headteacher Rachael Osborne said: ‘The children had a fantastic time and it’ll certainly be something they’ll remember for years to come.’

Lucketts Group has as many as 70 vehicles out on the road every weekday and is recognised as one of the biggest independent providers of school travel in Hampshire.