Coordinated by Community Rail Lancashire Community Rail Officer Dave Savage and funded by the train operator, the Feel Good Field Trips programme has already seen more than 1000 children take part in 88 excursions by train.
Schools along the Avanti-operated West Coast Mainline, which stretches between London and Scotland, have sent pupils to destinations as far afield as Bolton Wanders FC stadium, the Soho Sonic Studio, Gladstone Pottery in Stoke-on-Trent, the Liver Building in Liverpool and the Lake District.
Travelling in class-sized groups of around 30, accompanied by Dave and some of their teachers, the children – aged 5 to 16 – received red carpet treatment on both the trains and at the venues welcoming them. Other rail operators such as Northern, MerseyRail and Transport for London have also stepped in to provide connecting journeys from main line stations on Avanti West Coast’s route.
1500 pupils booked onto Field Trips Jan – June 2023
88 Avanti Train Journeys
13 different venues visited
At Bolton Wanders FC, pupils from Anchorsholme Primary Academy School in Blackpool had a tour of the stadium and met 1st Team players who were happy to sign autographs, while at the Duke’s Theatre in Lancaster, 25 pupils from St Bede’s in Preston enjoyed a behind the scenes tour of the historic venue.
The scheme has opened up travel opportunities that may otherwise have proved unaffordable at a time of severely constrained school budgets and has received warm reviews from both staff and pupils. Many of the participating pupils attend schools in disadvantaged areas and have never been on a train before.
The full Avanti Press Release can be downloaded on this link: Avanti West Coast Feel Good Field Trips Press Release May 2023 FINAL.
Graeme Dow, Headteacher at Anchorsholme Primary Academy School said: “In these difficult financial times, the opportunity for children to access such a fabulous experience is extremely limited. Many of the children who attended the visit have never been on a train and I know they will treasure this experience for many years to come.
“The concept of the “Feel Good Field Trips” is exceptional. It has provided our children with a truly unique experience that I know they will remember for a long time to come. I can’t praise Avanti West Coast enough for this innovative project.”
Feel Good Field Trips coordinator Dave Savage said: “It’s been a real privilege to be able to open up access to such a diverse range of exciting and educational experiences for pupils – many of whom wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to travel to these amazing venues.
“The feedback we have received to date has been outstanding and as the train cruises along the West Coast Main Line at 125mph, watching the reactions of children who have never experienced rail travel before is an absolute delight.
“By the end of the summer term, more than 1200 schoolchildren will have enjoyed a Feel Good Field Trip and we hope to deliver many more in the future.”
Andy Mellors, Managing Director at Avanti West Coast, said: “We’ve loved offering hundreds of school children access to opportunities they would never otherwise have the chance to experience. Seeing the excitement on the pupils’ faces as they discover something new has been brilliant and is what this initiative is all about.
“By connecting young people from all backgrounds to places along our route, we hope to broaden their horizons, which is why we’re delighted to have joined up with organisations to offer more unique experiences that champion iconic destinations on the West Coast. We look forward to welcoming more children onboard our trains as they take part in these fun days out which they’ll remember forever.”
The two-year campaign builds on the Avanti Schools Programme, which aspires to connect young people from a range of diverse socio-economic backgrounds to opportunities across the route and follows the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw school trips paused.
Schools wishing to apply for a Feel Good Field Trip should contact Dave Savage: email@example.com