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Sunshine bus rolls into Cromwell thanks to inspirational fundraiser
Monday 29th October 2018 @ 16:30 by Tom Greggan
Dukinfield Education News Tameside

A special needs school in Dukinfield has received a new ‘Sunshine’ coach thanks to a fundraising ball that took place in Manchester over the summer.

Last Tuesday, the children’s charity Variety and Michael Josephson MBE attended a special assembly at Cromwell High School, to present the new coach to excited pupils and staff.

The Variety Sunshine Coach will enable children at Cromwell to access days out and educational trips that would otherwise be out of reach for them.

Michael was given a tour of the school to meet the children before the assembly, where he made another surprise announcement, promising to buy a specialist piece of equipment called an ‘Eye Gaze’ for one very special young boy.

Joanna McDonald, Head of School at Cromwell, said: “We cannot thank Mr Josephson enough for all the wonderful support and kindness he has showed to Cromwell High School with our new Sunshine Coach, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the school when Mr Josephson unexpectedly announced that he would sponsor the “Eye Gaze “equipment for one of our pupils.”

Executive head teacher, Andrew Foord, added: “It’s so generous and it’s testament to the great work that’s been done in raising the money. Michael and his friends and colleagues have been marvellous in terms of making such a difference to the young people. It’s integral to our curriculum. Our children don’t just learn from books. We have to take them out into the world to find out for real what there is in the world and how it works, then reflect on it when we come back to class. That coach is an absolutely essential part of what we’re trying to do for the children here.”

Michael Josephson MBE (left) hands over the keys to the new sunshine coach to Cromwell executive head teacher, Andrew Foord.

Michael’s journey to where he is today- supporting children across the North West- is an astonishing story. After his mother died when he was just five years old, Michael suffered years of sexual and physical abuse in and out of care and was plagued by bullying. At the age of 20, despite earning a living and recognising his sexuality, Michael attempted suicide, but survived.

While recovering in hospital, Michael decided he wasn’t going to let the bullies win. In 2015, he formed ‘Stocks 2015 Ltd’, a business that now has an annual turnover of £3m.

Michael also left hospital with a desire to help other children, to stop them from going through the same horrific experiences he endured. He got involved with the NSPCC and Childline and in the past ten years, he’s raised £3.4m for the charities.

This year however, Michael wanted to help even more children. He explained to the Tameside Reporter: “After ten years supporting the NSPCC and Childline, it was time to reach out because there are many other children who I want to support.”

At the inaugural Michael Josephson MBE Summer Ball on June 30th, held at the Hilton Hotel on Deansgate, Manchester, £256,900 was raised for three children’s charities; Variety, the Seashell Trust and the Frost Foundation.

Michael Josephson MBE donated more than £147,000 to children’s charity Variety, after his fundraising ball brought in £256,900.

“Part of the money that has gone to Variety – £147,000 – was to buy a bus for Cromwell,” Michael added. “I am honoured to be in a position to support so many sick disabled and disadvantaged children here in the North West.

“I am here today representing all the fantastic people who supported my inaugural Michael Josephson MBE Summer Ball. As the Vice Chairman of Patrons to Variety, I was delighted to bring a cheque for £147,134.43 to Variety to support more children here in the Northwest Region.

“Today makes a difference. It was fantastic to walk around and see all the children, all the different sensory rooms and see how much of a difference I can make now by giving a coach to the school.”

Lyn Staunton, North West Development Director at Variety NW, said: “We are extremely grateful to Michael Josephson for funding Cromwell High School’s Variety Sunshine Coach. These coaches, often regarded as ‘mobile classrooms’, give pupils with additional needs the opportunity to experience active learning and develop life skills outside of the school environment.

“Michael does so much for Variety in the North West Region and we will be forever grateful to him for the difference he has made to so many children.”