A FIVE-YEAR plan to raise £25,000 for a minibus for students at Horizons College has been completed in just 10 months.

From bikeathons to bucket collections, the team at Horizons College, formerly Uplands Educations Trust, have worked round the clock to raise the funds and on Friday, staff, students and members from the Rotary Club, who helped raise the funds, gathered at their Headlands site to officially unveil the new minibus.

The mammoth fundraising challenge was the brainchild of Horizons governor Cliff Puffett, who wanted to raise the money to allow students with learning or physical disabilities to get out and about more often, widening opportunities for them within the community.

It initially started as a five-year fundraising campaign but quickly changed due to the success of frequent fundraising activities including a number of bikeathons at supermarkets across Swindon, Marlborough and Cirencester.

At the official unveiling, an emotional Cliff said: "It has been a remarkable journey and the most uplifting part was the way the students have participated in helping us get to this total.

"They have stepped up to the plate and completed 500 miles during the bikeathons which has been supported by the Rotary Club.

"A lot of people have asked what is Horizons College but now people know what we are about and they are ready to support it.

"If there were any Oscars to be handed out they should really go to the learners who have given it their all."

With a generous grant from the Swindon Charity Ball as well as a £3,000 anonymous donation, the team had reached £22,000 by September and hoped a final event last month would be just the ticket to help them reach their target.

Cliff soon organised a sporting dinner with racing legends Johnny Francombe, Bob Champion and Carl Lewellyn giving their time and sharing their stories for the cause. To his delight £5,000 was raised allowing them to go ahead and buy the new minibus.

Head of college Genti Mullalui was thrilled that students could finally benefit from the funds.

"It has been an interesting 10 months because when we did the first bikeathon we raised about £300 in December and by our meeting in January we thought we might have to rethink our ways to raise the money," he said.

"Despite that we were determined and we knew the amount would come in the end. As the campaign was given more publicity and thanks to an anonymous donation of £3,000 we were well on our way.

"Coming to this day and being able to have the official handover of this fantastic minibus is great because it will be helping these learners get to work placements. It is beyond what they have expected or aspired to and of course we have to thank Cliff and the Rotary for being behind us the whole way.

"We are really proud of what we have been able to achieve and we've been amazed by Cliff's energy and enthusiasm in getting everyone on board."

Horizons College now hope to start a new fundraising drive to raise money for a kitchen.