Playbus adventures written for children

jpco-31-7-13 Sue Wickstead author of Playbus books  (Pic by Jon Rigby)
jpco-31-7-13 Sue Wickstead author of Playbus books (Pic by Jon Rigby)

A woman from Furnace Green is hoping to get children more interested in Crawley’s history through a series of children’s books.

Sue Wickstead, 58, has already written The Bewbush Playbus, a history book about the iconic bus which she volunteered on for a number of years.

Having taken her book into schools and seen the enthusiasm from children about the playbus, she has written a series of story books telling the ‘adventures’ of different mobile projects around the country.

Sue, who served as a parent, committee member and project co-ordinator during her time with the Playbus, said: “They were just fascinated and I thought it would be quite nice to do it as a story. I’ve done it for the children.

“The children have been asking questions and wishing the playbus was still here.”

Among her set of nine books, some of which she has written in draft and others she has yet to write, are a range of characters to capture children’s imaginations.

The tale of Jay Jay the Supersonic bus will ring bells with people who knew the Bewbush Playbus, which was also called Supersonic.

It opened in 1980 and was a community bus and pre-school playgroup before the neighbourhood had a community centre.

It tells the story about how the playbus was set up when the South East branch of the Girl Guides Association chose to spend their portion of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Fund on a project in the new neighbourhood of Bewbush.

It ran jumble sales, coffee mornings and other events until 2003 when it closed, but Sue has found inspiration in other mobile bus projects across the country.

Sparky is the disabled bus from Scotland, based on the real life story of the first playbus to have a stairlift. Called the dragon bus, he survived a bus depot fire because he was in the corner.

Yet to be written is Henry VII, which is based on the story of the Hackney bus in London which ‘lost its head’ when it went under a bridge and Rocky, the bus with a climbing wall.

Sue, a retired teacher, said: “What they are inspired by really is that the buses think, move and link in with original projects. I would be able to say, ‘this is the real Sparky’.

“They love it because they are real.”

Her books are currently with publishers trying to find suitable illustrators to bring the stories alive. She hopes to release Jay Jay the Supersonic first and the rest will follow.