AT 20 years old, Bessie the Bus was about ready to rust in peace.
But it was not quite the end of the road for the jolly-looking vehicle which has now been given a new lease on life by once again loading up young passengers in Nelson Mandela Bay.
The bus was lying dormant following the closure of the Bushy Park Dairy Farm – where it had been used to take children to the dairy on educational visits and for transporting workers – when it was rescued by Mike Glover of the charity Touch Africa.
Glover identified a need to transport children from Walmer Township to Heatherbank School and realised Bessie was just the bus for the job.
He managed to get a good price and donated the bus for use by the pupils.
The brightly coloured carrier, decorated with children’s painted hands and stickers of sponsors who assisted in refurbishing the vehicle, now turns heads wherever it goes.
Bessie also has its original engine.
Inako Blouw, 5, said she loved riding in the “big and pretty” bus with her friends every morning.
The bus’s fuel is also sponsored.
Heatherbank School principal Ellen Lovemore acknowledged that transport was one of the school’s main problems. “This is a school for underprivileged kids and we help where we can. We would welcome any financial assistance or volunteers.”