29 Nov 2021

Big cheers at Portlaoise College for the official launch of their new school bus

Portlaoise College students can travel in style thanks to a massive community fundraiser that raised enough to them buy a bus

Classes and teams at Portlaoise College can now travel in style on days out, after a fundraiser raised enough cash to buy a bus.

This morning Wednesday September 20 the ribbon was officially cut on the 28 seater school bus, to big cheers from students and staff.

A Strictly Come Dancing run by the Parents Council raised the necessary €40,000, and the event was a huge success in more ways than one.

Principal Noel Daly who himself was one of the dancers on stage, said it was a "win win".

"It brought people together and ultimately we got our bus as well. Parents, students, teachers, all came together for a common purpose. It was a huge achievement," he said.

The dancers all rehearsed hard for eight weeks, as well as fundraising individually, before the big night in the Heritage Hotel last October.

The principal was drafted in with just three weeks to go, but gave it his all, dancing with parent Claire Dunne to an Olly Murs hit.

"It was very good fun, it certainly took me out of my comfort zone," he said.

Louise Dent is chairperson of Portlaoise College Parents council.

"On the night we had all the tickets sold, but we didn't know looking at that empty room if people would come, especially as it was a bank holiday weekend. Well it was packed, people were standing, it was just amazing," she said.

The judges were ploughing legend Anna May McHugh, former Laois footballer Padraig Clancy, and Anne Fitzpatrick, site director with Enva, the main sponsor. Other local businesses also supported the night with raffle prizes and cash donations. 

"It was great to be involved and I'm delighted to see the bus here today. Enva is in Portlaoise 38 years and we have a good relationship with Portlaoise College, something we want to maintain going forward," Ms Fitzpatrick said.

The night was a resounding success, and raised enough for the bus, delivered this August, emblazoned with the school name and crest.

"I just want to thank everyone. The work that was put in by the dancers, and then the support of local business and our sponsor Enva made it all possible. It's not something that happens too often in a school. Hopefully it will last us a long time," said Mr Daly. 

The bus is being driven by Ballinakill man Jimmy Palmer who gardens at the school. It has already made a big difference.

"It is for extra curricular activities, sports events and TY trips. The cost of trips is down for parents. It costs about €30k a year to get busses and this saves about €10k or €15k. It is part of the development of facilities for Portlaoise College as it continues to grow, with 850 pupils now between 2nd level and the PLC institute," the principal said.

The bus even helped out some Stradbally students recently.

"We dropped them home to Stradbally one day when their school bus had an issue, so it is great to have it onsite," Mr Daly said.

Video: Portlaoise College Principal Noel Daly launches their school bus, with Anne Fitzpatrick, Enva, Louise Dent, Parents Council, and students Fabien Anghene and Hristo Petrushkov.

Below:Deputy Principal Patricia Cullen, Connie Skerritt PRO Parents Council, teacher and winner of the Strictly Michelle Duggan, Louise Dent Chair of Parents Council, Catríona Walsh teacher/dancer, and Christelle Dunne Treasurer Parents Council.

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