Okehampton Primary Travelling Classroom

20 April 2022 |

Recently, pupils from Okehampton Primary School were treated to a creative train trip thanks to the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership. Melissa Trudgill, Community Engagement Manager for Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust said ‘thanks to the successful ongoing partnership between the Trust’s community team and the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership, 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 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.

Parcel Pets are named and personalities created and thus the art-based activity is also linked to literacy. On this occasion the children made 2 parcel pets; one for themselves and one for an older resident of Okehampton. The two parcel pets are then pen pals, and the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership encourages interaction between the two as a way of tackling social isolation. Luckily the Kents 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.

Sally Crabtree, poet, is the brains behind parcel pets and many other wonderfully creative literacy-based projects. Sally is also known as the ‘Poetry Postie’ who delivers poetic inspiration to the Nation with her colourful, quirky, interactive performances and inspires whole communities to explore the notion of communication. It gets communities communicating and the projects aim to raise aspirations and show everyone that there is a big world out there – one that they can forge a link with. 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 happiness to those who have been isolated for so long. ”


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, seeks improvements to service and facilities, to boost the local economy and to link the community and the railway.’