Big Yellow Bus Project Comes to Swindon

In 2017 truck driver Gerry Watkins raised four grand to buy a double-decker bus which he converted it into a homeless shelter in Cirencester. The project was hailed a success and received media support, and live music fundraisers. With the Cirencester bus now fully refurbished with bed compartments containing timber-framed bunk beds, eating and kitchen areas with a wood-burner, Gerry vowed to bring the concept to other areas in the south west.

Today, he’s proud to bring the idea to Swindon, with a new bus in need of renovation. “I know Swindon needs more than just one bus, but this is a start,” he said.

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Such an inspiring DIY story shows the individual can make a difference, yet Gerry is keen to add, “the whole project relies on the sheer kindness of the community and fundraising events to raise funds to purchase materials.” After a campaign to local businesses, Gerry wanted to purchase the bus for £2,900, and told BBC News, “it’s in pretty good condition for the money I paid for it.”

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In March Charles Martell, the High Sheriff of Gloucestershire paid The Big Yellow Bus Project a visit along with a longstanding supporter, Lady Bathurst, to present a cheque for £500. But the funding needs to continue. A variety of events have been arranged in the past to do just that, from seaside coach trips to bingo and raffle nights, fund raisers have also included some great punk and ska nights in Cirencester and Stroud, with the backing of local bands such as The Strays, Shaggy Dog Raconteurs, Train to Skaville, Ska-Bucks, Sugar Motown and Plucking Different. Here’s hoping the support will be continued in this new project.

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All the work carried out for the previous project was checked by the relevant authority and any homeless person using the bus must be signed up to a rehabilitation course. Gerry also hopes to set up training courses to help the homeless get back into work. We wish Gerry all the best with this outstanding contribution to a growing problem in the South West, please, if you can, show some support for this inspirational project, here.

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Our Cheque to OpenDoors

Hey there, just a quick one from me today, mind, I say that then I start waffling, you know how it is!

 
Delighted to announce that I handed a cheque for the total sum of £225 to Devizes Opendoors today, from our fundraising events at the Bear Hotel’s Cellar Bar in Devizes last month.

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It was good to see the homeless charity still thriving, offering takeaway food after their cooked breakfast. Books and clothes are also available to takers; people in sheltered accommodation or sleeping rough in our neighbourhood. It has been over a year since I paid them a visit to highlight the good work they do, see the article here. It was great to know the followers of Devizine has contributed, even just this small amount to this often-overlooked charity.

 
With Devizes Opendoors saddened by the recent passing of one of their regular guests, Richard Manning early in May, the organisation could do some better news. They’ve raised funds from their recent Quiz Night, and The Sing Alive Choir’s event on the 11th May. You can find out from their exhibit at Devizes Health and Wellbeing event, and from the website, here.

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It was even better to acknowledge that we had fun doing it! Reminders of our two events can be read here, and here. Again, a massive thanks for all who attended, to Luke and the Cellar Bar staff for putting up with us. To Harvey and Finely Trusler of the lively Truzzy Boys, Jordan Whatley aka The Hound on the Mountain for that fantastic and expressive set, Gail Foster for brill photographs which just seem to get better with every snap, and her witty and poignant poetry interludes, and the gents of those brilliant Roughcut Rebels; Jamie Elly, Doug Wilcox, Mark Slade, and John Burns.

 
Of course, that was just the first night, an assortment of live music. For our second, all-reggae night the following Saturday we have Nick Newman, aka Razah, and Knati P, aka Clifton Powell to massively thank. Alongside their dedicated team who carried the equipment down those wonky steps to build the loudest sound system the Cellar Bar has ever witnessed, and stayed to party with us! Particularly Sam Chaloner for assisting the door and encouraging punters to come party.

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What comes next? Thanks for asking, but I’ve no idea. I’d like to get summer over and done with, so full of great events already. Then I’d like to do some more Devizine Presents gigs, using our many venues in town and highlighting the best of our local talent. There are many other charities I’d like to include and so, watch this space until the leaves fall from the trees (let’s not think about that yet though, eh?!)

 

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Introducing Devizine Presents; me getting out there and actually doing something!

Hi all, just a quick one from me today. I say that and then I waffle on; ah, you know me too well.

 
Learning lessons about event coordination this week I find it’s not as simple as it sounds. In all actual fact, it can be a bit of a headache. All those I chat with, wanting me to plug this, and that, well done you guys, I’ve experienced it from your side now! There was a point when I was like, yay; reggae in the Cellar Bar, then in one phone call it comes crashing down, and you’re left feeling now I got nought.

 
But spirits rising again, as from the failure comes two events, of which I’d like to run as a series; I dunno, bi-monthly or something. But I do want to blag what I can from our many venues and event coordinators, work with them to host some charity fundraising events, if they’ll have me and my shambolic procedures. But first, I need to thank everyone who’s overwhelmed me with positive responses to playing one of these, completely unplanned, disorganised chaos of events!

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Sam Bishop at our last outing in November. Photo by the wonderful Nick Padmore

So firstly, we kick off with an indie/acoustic type thing, down the Cellar Bar on 11th May. There, for a fiver, or, look, whatever you can chip in pal, you’ll find an abnormal assortment. Not that the acts are abnormal, but the line-up, for though you’ll know Sam Bishop and Finely Trusler as those indie lads from Devizes, Larkin, we’re hosting both of them, without any fights, hopefully, as Fin heads the Truzzy Boys with his cousin Harvey Trusler, and Sam, he’ll be with a promised new band.

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Truzzy Boys will be there, will you?

If that isn’t enough surprises, Melksham’s incredible, raw and energetic performer, the kind I’ve compared to a dreadlocked Jim Morrison in the past, will be there too. Jordan Whatley, aka The Hound on the Mountain, once member of the Compact Pussycat, returns as a solo artist with some new songs for us.

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The Hound of the Mountain promises to fuzz us all up!

And we’re doing this for Devizes Opendoor, a registered homeless charity who’ve I’ve been to see first-hand the great work they do, providing a breakfast to kick off the day, lunch takeaways, clothes and books, but also advice, support and sociability for anyone sleeping rough or in sheltered accommodation. It’s a situation which never goes away, in fact increases, yet, with stereotyping and crass negative opinions, it’s easy to turn a blind eye to. Let’s not get all political, you know how I feel. Just know that this, and our second event will both donate all proceeds to Opendoor.

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Click to read more about Devizes Opendoor

Wha? Second? Yeah, listen up, the reggae night, boomshaka-la, I did say, was merely postponed, and we should bash this one out too, the following week, same place, same time, on Saturday 18th May. Few bits to iron out at present, (and as you could imagine, I’ve an allergic reaction to ironing) but the man Knati P, and Raz-ah will be shaking the foundations of Devizes’ most prominent landmark, The Bear Hotel.

Look, don’t let me get carried away here, but we’ve a lot more on this to come, and I’ll let you know when it does. I’ve lots of acts wishing to contribute, from the incredible local acoustic Vince Bell, wonderful Sally Dobson, to some off the planet ska-punk, and much more. We’ve also a range of worthy charities to donate to, The Devizes & District Opportunity Centre are on my hitlist, along with the wonderful Arts Together.

 
Watch this space….no, bollocks to that, get yourself down the Cellar Bar on the 11th May, for what will be, I’m certain of it, a historic moment when Devizine ceases to become that crap you read online, and becomes actual, actually a darn good series of nights. Boom, that enough? Can I go now?!

 
Opps, nearly forgot; she’ll kill me, odds on bet. We will not, hopefully, leave you dangling in boring conversation about the weather during the band changeovers, no sir-y Bob. Our town’s wonderful, amazing, brilliant, Gail Foster will be drafted in to provide us with some mind-blowing, possibly a bit rude, poetry interludes. That is, if I’ve not annoyed her too much, see what I mean, it’s not easy being an event promoter; mine’s a Stowford Press by the way.

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Here’s the Facebook event page, let me know you’re coming, because you need to come, tell me you will, but no fibs, do come! See, told you waffling, it’s not pretty.

 

 

 

 

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