This post was first published by Croydon Advertiser on 11/06/2018.
What happened next after Ed Sheeran bought a Croydon school a bus
The kind-hearted pop star stepped in to help a close friend who is a teacher at a Thornton Heath school.
A primary school in Thornton Heath which converted a bus into a classroom for music lessons last year thanks to the help of pop superstar Ed Sheeran believes the project has “transformed music at the school for the better”.
Ecclesbourne Primary School, in Atlee Close, had struggled to teach music in the past due to a lack of facilities, but for the past 12 months, it has been one of the school’s most talked about classes.
That is mainly down to the Jam Bus – a Mercedes Citaro bendy bus which was transformed into a classroom last June.
Timothy Spoerer, a music teacher at the school, came up with the idea of creating the unusual classroom in early 2016 and has called it a “raving success”.
He said: “Everything is great. The kids absolutely love it and they have so many music opportunities now. Before the Jam Bus we were wheeling a trolley between classrooms but now it’s a raving success.
“We have even started our own choir and we have performed at places like Buckingham Palace and the O2. It has just been amazing.”
Mr Spoerer previously told the Advertiser last year how long-term friend Ed Sheeran bought the school the bus in 2016.
The bus was then converted into a classroom after the Pegasus Academy Trust, which the school is a part of, funded the cost of the conversion.
It boasts a storage area at the rear, where instruments and lesson plans can be kept, a djembe [a West African drum] rack, an area where guitar lessons are taught and an array of desks.
There is also an open space at the front, where children can sit, a touch screen whiteboard, and a teacher’s desk where the steering wheel used to be.
The bus is parked in the school’s playground.
“Before the Jam Bus I couldn’t even run an orchestra or band because there was nowhere to rehearse,” Mr Spoerer said.
“Our Jam Bus classes are a little bit like the School of Rock and I really think it has transformed music at the school for the better.
“Since the Jam Bus has arrived everything has changed. We can get so much more done now and the kids are much more excited.
“It was a bit of a struggle before to get the kids excited about music but since we have had the Jam Bus the kids are constantly knocking on my door asking if they can use it.
“It gives them opportunities that they didn’t have before.”
Mr Spoerer is continuing to raise funds so the bus can be repainted. So far, the school has raised more than £3,000.
There are also plans for the school to build a musical playground beside the bus, which will be littered with musical instruments, as well as a stage where children can perform.
To help with the fundraising, the school, which has been buying more instruments for the music department every month, was recently personally sent a signed guitar by singer-songwriter Ed.
The guitar has been valued at £20,000 and is set to be auctioned in the coming weeks.
“I am really grateful to Ed for all he has done,” Mr Spoerer said. “He sent us this signed guitar along with a video of him with the guitar to prove it was real and that did wonders for the value.
“The guy is a legend and I am actually meeting him in Amsterdam next week. We still hang out when we can but obviously, he is really busy.
“He is a really cool guy.”
The school hope to use the money to make the planned changes to the Jam Bus and to improve the school’s music facilities in time for the start of the next school year in September.
To donate to the crowdfunding campaign go to www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/jambus.
For more information on the Jam-Bus project visit the Twitter page @JamBusmusic or subscribe to the YouTube account Jam Bus EPS.
How are a Croydon teacher and a world-famous pop star such good friends?
Timothy Spoerer explained when he first spoke to the Advertiser how he first met Ed Sheeran nine years ago.
Speaking last year, he said: “I was called by my manager to do a show, as I play the djembe in a band, and I was told to meet this boy who had just arrived in London but I couldn’t really be bothered.
“I went into this building and as I arrived my manager pushed me into Ed, who was 17 at the time, and he asked if I was the man who played the djembe and we spoke before I joined him [to perform] a set.
“The whole place went wild when we were playing so I [was] regularly booked with him from then on. I just helped him out when he was starting out and I still go and see his shows now.
“He is exactly like he seems on TV and is just a nice and relaxed person. He has always known he will be famous and is a really good friend.”
Having come up with the idea of buying a bus for music lessons, funding the project became an issue, so he called in a favour from his famous friend.
He said: “Ed was best man at one of our friends’ weddings, while I was an usher.
“While at the wedding I spoke to him about it and he ended up buying us the bus. He was well on board with the idea.”