More than 150 children from Island and mainland schools took part in ‘The Big Picnic’ colouring competition, organised by South Western Railway’s Isle of Wight community rail partnership.
The competition celebrated the community rail partnership’s new book, ‘The Squirrels’ Tale’.
The winners, Key Stage 2 pupils from schools local to the partnership’s route on the Island, Lymington and New Forest, were hosted by The Isle of Wight Steam Railway, Havenstreet, where they all enjoyed a picnic, tour and a ride on the train.
‘The Squirrel’s Tale’ is a story of the partnership working together to help the Isle of Wight’s red squirrel population remove the grey squirrels trying to take over the Island.
Key Stage 2 children, in eight schools in the area, were given copies of the book, which contained a competition to colour in maps of the ‘Red Squirrel Trails’ accessible walks, with the winners receiving the prize of a visit to the steam railway for ‘The Big Picnic’.
Bobby Lock, community rail manager, said: “’The Squirrels’ Tale’ has been a lovely project to work on and one close to my heart and so it was joyous seeing children from schools on the Island and the New Forest enjoying their day.
“Now we’d like to see more families come and explore all the places those cheeky squirrels love around the railways, both on the Island and at Lymington and Brockenhurst.”
Anita Wilcox, head teacher of Dover Park Primary School, Ryde, said: “The children really enjoyed reading ‘The Squirrels’ Tale’ and finding out about the grey and red squirrels. They particularly liked that it was set on the Isle of Wight as they recognised many of the places from the story.
“Due to the pandemic the children have not had the opportunity to get out and about, so they just loved learning and doing new things. They were really interested in the history of the train and enjoyed finding the clues whilst on the scavenger hunt.
“They all had a wonderful time and thoroughly enjoyed the day.”