Dozens of students from Highbridge’s King Alfred School had a dramatic start to their half-term ski holiday on Saturday evening (February 14th) when their coach caught fire on the trip to Italy.

Their vehicle was travelling through Bracknell at around 6.40pm when several of the 63 students onboard smelt smoke.

The driver of the Marchants coach pulled over and all the students safely left the bus.

Fire crews and police were called to the scene and firefighters used four breathing apparatus and two hose reel jets to bring the blazing vehicle under control.

The students waited in the nearby Horse and Groom Harvester restaurant before a replacement coach arrived.

Head teacher Denise Hurr told “All students and staff are well and got back on the road at 10pm with a 3.30am ferry crossing booked. The pub and emergency services were fantastic in looking after everyone.”

One of the passengers onboard the coach said the restaurant’s staff had been very welcoming. “This happened all of a sudden. We could have not stopped in a better place as the general manager was absolutely fantastic,” he said.

“We were offered shelter for our luggage and they found a suitable place for 63 students and staff to rest whilst we waited for the replacement bus. We thank them for all their help and making us all feel welcomed in unforeseen difficult circumstances.”

Pictured: The coach fire on Saturday night and, above, the students leaving for the trip earlier in the day