NEXT stop, fun! That’s the message from a former Hucknall man who has launched an innovative children’s soft-play venture — on a double-decker bus.
Richard Sharp is the driving force behind Squiggles Playbus.
The former accountant has spent £40,000 on buying and converting the retired school-bus to provide an action-packed experience for youngsters.
The bus, which is housed at K&M Hauliers on Watnall Road, Hucknall, is available to hire for parties and events.
It features a slide that runs from the top deck to the bottom, a large crawl tunnel, two ball-pool areas, spinning poles, wall puzzles, a ‘Squiggles Tree’, which rises from the bottom deck to the top and features an internal speaker system, and see-through floor panels upstairs.
There is also a seating section where food, which can be provided by Squiggles, is served. The bus caters for parties of up to 16 children aged between three and ten.
The bus, which was converted by a company in Bristol, revved into action last month and has already hosted 19 parties.
Said Richard (35), who runs the business single-handedly: “It’s great to have the bus up and running. The feedback and the response so far have been excellent.
“We are getting lots of interest through our website and our Facebook page.
“We were looking at launching a conventional soft-play centre but came across some of these buses down south and thought it would be a brilliant alternative. Our diary is filling up fast.”
Richard is well-known in Hucknall as a former pupil at the Annie Holgate and Holgate schools. He played football for Hucknall Harrier as a youngster and most recently for Kimberley Miners Welfare and Sandhurst in the Notts Senior League until retiring three years ago.
He lives in Mansfield with fiancee Sophie Adams, who is another ex-pupil of Holgate Comprehensive and is deputy head teacher at King Edwin Primary School in Edwinstowe. They have two children — three-year-old Scarlett and one-year-old George.
“My own children were part of the motivation for Squiggles,” said Richard. “We just want to provide an exciting venue for children that is safe and fun.”
Richard’s parents, Ken and Pat Sharp, still live in Hucknall. Ken is well-known as a postman around Hucknall for the last 30 years, while Pat worked as a teaching assistant at Annie Holgate Junior School from 1987 to 2010.
Richard’s father-in-law, self-employed auto electrician Pete Armstrong, who lives in Bestwood Village, has worked on the bus, including installing the heating system.
OUR PHOTO show Richard with the playbus