BERKSHIRE Breaking Reading

The cancellation of a massive fundraising event due to Covid-19 has given a bus company a major headache and a huge challenge

The cancellation of a massive fundraising event due to Covid-19 has given a bus company a major headache and a huge challenge.

For Reading Buses, it was how to replace the ever-popular annual charity open day at their Great Knollys Street depot in the town which couldn’t take place due to the pandemic.

The head scratching has resulted in an inventive compromise for its very supportive public.

Reading Buses is joining in with the festivities of Heritage Open Days and as a result are ‘virtually’ throwing open the doors of the company which has been in the town since 1901.

“We are aware there are a lot of open day supporters who were extremely disappointed because we had to cancel this year’s charity open day,” said Reading Buses Chief Executive Officer Robert Williams.

“So to make sure people do not miss out on getting a look behind the scenes, and hopefully raise some money for this year’s Reading Buses charity Sport in Mind, we will be holding a virtual open week from Monday September 14 to Friday September 18.

“The virtual open week will comprise a series of videos representing parts of the company which we know from past experience are extremely popular with our loyal open day visitors.”

People will be able to see:

The bus wash – a ride through the wash is one of the favourite open day attractions. They’ll take a look at how Reading Buses keep their buses squeaky clean and use rainwater as well as recycled water
The control room – a look behind the scenes to see how they keep their buses on time and how they keep Reading moving
The engineering workshop tour – seeing the engine of a bus and viewing their ‘station in the sky’ – the gas station up in the air which helps compress the gas to fill compressed natural gas (CNG) buses
The buses themselves – see lots of Reading’s multi-coloured buses

Said Robert: “In the past the control room and engineering workshop tours have normally been a sell out, so this is a great opportunity to get a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes.

“It will be appreciated that the inevitable cancellation of our open day presented a significant challenge as to how we could raise funds for our charity of the year and make sure people do not miss out on getting to look behind the scenes in 2020.

“As Reading Buses have been running since 1901 we figured that the heritage of the company – as well as seeing how things have changed in the modern world of running buses – might be of special interest to people at this time. We celebrated the 100th anniversary of the first motorbus route in December 2019.”

He explained that the company would be supplying a text to donate a code to sit alongside this virtual open week to raise some money for Sport in Mind too.

If people enjoy the videos as well as seeing some of the 21st century techniques that help keep Reading on the move, they can donate £2 by texting SIM 2 to 70085.

Added Robert: “We invite people to keep an eye on our social media for the videos for each of the tours from Monday 14 to Friday 18 September. We are confident they will offer compelling viewing.”

Neil Harris, Chief Executive Officer of Sport in Mind, said: “Sport in Mind are very excited about this virtual open week. It presents the public with something fun and positive to do in these challenging times.

“This also helps raise money so our charity can deliver services to support local people experiencing mental health problems, particularly as the pandemic has had a huge impact on everyone’s mental health.

“As a Reading charity we’ve always loved Reading Buses open day and were disappointed when it had to be cancelled due to Covid-19. However, this is a fantastic initiative that will make up for not being able to run the open day in traditional fashion this year.”

The traditional Reading Buses open day last year raised more than £5,700.