High-vis kids can walk to their Mirfield school in safety, thanks to company’s gift

Hoppa on board: Young hi-vis walkers, thanks to Darren

A Mirfield primary school’s road safety scheme has been boosted by an early Christmas present that will help keep pupils “bright and safe”, thanks to a development company.

Darren Smith Homes, which is currently delivering a £30m project to revitalise a disused brownfield site at St Paul’s Lock in Mirfield, stepped in to fund some eye-catching, “high-vis” safety vests for pupils using the popular Crowlees Hoppa - a walking bus, park and stride scheme for children to get to Crowlees CE School, Parker Lane, Mirfield.

Mum-of-two and former school governor, Dianne Watkinson, founded the Hoppa at the junior and infants’ school nearly five years ago and describes the project as a cross between a walking bus and “park and stride” schemes.

She set it up to help ease congestion and road safety issues around Springfield Park at school drop-off time and to help parents get their children to class, without always having to take them there themselves.

Dianne said: “The Hoppa teaches children about road sense, gets them moving and helps them to make friends.

“It could be set up at any school to help ease the country-wide problem of dangerous congestion around schools. When we lost our previous sponsors, we were thrilled that Darren stepped in to help keep the Hoppa children looking bright and safe on the way to school. His company has funded 26 vests for pupils, aged eight to 11 years, as our younger ones and adults are already catered for.”

Darren said: “We pride ourselves on supporting the community wherever we can so when Dianne contacted me we were delighted to be able to help.

“Anything that encourages children to walk to school, makes lives easier for parents and reduces traffic congestion has to be a win-win situation for us all.”

The Hoppa is a familiar sight in Mirfield every morning, with more than 30 children and adults meeting daily outside the library and then walking to school.

Darren Smith is the MD of Darren Smith Homes Ltd and describes himself as “Mirfield born and bred”.

His company is currently building homes on the brownfield site overlooking the Calder and Hebbel Canal. It is investing £10m to build the first phase of the scheme – comprising 38 one and two-bedroom apartments - while the second phase will cost £20m.

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