Rail line day trip for pupils and their Parcel Pets

Saturday 30th April 2022 11:00 am
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Pupils from Okehampton Primary School were treated to a creative train trip recently courtesy of the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership.

Melissa Trudgill, community engagement manager for Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust, said: ‘We were lucky for our children to be considered for this project.

‘Working with Rebecca Catterall, development officer from DCRP, is always a pleasure and linking in this time with poet Sally Crabtree was so exciting.

‘The best part though was seeing the delight on the faces of the residents of Kent House Care Home in the town – the residents there were delighted to see the children and connections were made.’

The pupils travelled from Okehampton to Exeter on the recently-opened new railway line and used the train as a creative travelling classroom.

The children each made a Parcel Pet on board the train. Parcel Pets start life as a small cardboard box, but are individualised by the children using a variety of colourful craft items.

They give them names and personalities too and so this art-based activity is also linked to literacy. On this occasion the children made two parcel pets – one for themselves and one for an older resident of Okehampton. The two parcel pets are then declared pen pals, and the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership encourages interaction between the two as a way of tackling social isolation.

Luckily the Kent House Care Home were keen to be involved and this was where the trip ended – with the children delivering the ‘pets’ they had made on the train.

Poet Sally Crabtree is the brains behind Parcel Pets and many other wonderfully creative literacy-based projects.

Sally, also known as the ‘Poetry Postie’, delivers poetic inspiration to the nation with her colourful, quirky, interactive performances and inspires whole communities to explore the notion of communication.

She aims to gets communities communicating, raise aspirations and show everyone that there is a big world out there – one that they can forge a link with. Commenting on her day on the train, Sally said: ‘What a magical day it was – the children were amazing and it lifted our hearts to see the smiles on all the faces of the care home residents when we delivered our Parcel Pets. We do hope we can continue to connect with the community in such a way and bring some much-needed cheer.’

Rebecca Catterall added: ‘We had a fantastic trip on the train to Exeter, courtesy of Great Western Railway, where the children enjoyed the views out of the window as well as getting stuck into their creative activities. They did so well we even had time to do some edible poetry on the way back.’

=The Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership is a non-profit partnership between local authorities, the rail industry and Plymouth University which works to promote use of the region’s branch lines and seeks improvements to service and facilities to boost the local economy and to link the community and the railway.

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