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Bus which hosts children's play sessions to celebrate landmark birthday

PUBLISHED: 10:56 20 September 2018 | UPDATED: 10:56 20 September 2018

Maggie the Ipswich playbus will turn 15 in early October Picture: MANDY POTTER

Maggie the Ipswich playbus will turn 15 in early October Picture: MANDY POTTER

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An Ipswich bus which hosts children's play sessions will turn 15 next month.

Maggie travels all over Ipswich an currently brings joy to over 500 children in the town Picture: MANDY POTTERMaggie travels all over Ipswich an currently brings joy to over 500 children in the town Picture: MANDY POTTER

The Ipswich Community Playbus project was first launched way back in 1979, issuing a mobile play centre for toddlers with advice provided for their parents and families.

More recently Maggie, the double-decker bus with a built-in slide and soft play areas, hit the road as a mobile play centre in 2003 after spending 18 years as an Ipswich service bus.

Mandy Potter, the Ipswich Community Playbus co-ordinator, who has worked with Maggie for 14 years, said: “It’s a wonderful job, absolutely fantastic.

“We drive all around Ipswich and we give young children and families the opportunity to play and have fun, we provide a service really to areas that don’t have facilities for a play-group or anything for the little ones.

“I still get teenagers in high school come up to me now saying they remember the bus from when they were young.”

Maggie was the third playbus to hit the tarmac in Ipswich since the project began in the 1970s.

She has since given hours of fun and happiness to thousands of kids in Ipswich and currently makes eight stops a week across the town providing free playtime for any children aged five and under.

Currently more than 500 children and parents use Maggie around the Ipswich area but it is also used by parents and carers who are lonely or isolated to get together and form lasting relationships.

Whilst it is Maggie’s birthday on Wednesday, October 3, she will still have to work and make her usual stops.

Ms Potter said: “I might bake a cake for her to celebrate an the kids can have some too.

“I see a bright future for Maggie, she is in a good position mechanically, we have great support and we shall continue to delivery a quality service to children.

“I think, as long as there are children in Ipswich, there will always be a Maggie for them.”

Liz Harsant, Ipswich Community Playbus chairman, echoed Ms Potter’s enthusiasm.

She said: “We want to keep doing what we are doing with Maggie but one day I would love to get another bus, with two buses we could visit children beyond Ipswich which would be fantastic.

“I haven’t got any names decided yet but who knows? It could be a boy bus this time.”

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