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The Cresset and Premier Pantomimes have teamed up with the National Literacy Trust to give children in Peterborough the gift of reading this Christmas.

In support of the National Literacy Trust campaign, members of The Cresset’s panto cast including audience favourite and panto veteran Ricky Groves (EastEnders), Pete McCrohon, Zach Vanderfelt and Larry Stubbings recorded a short video promoting the power of reading. Take a look here!

This comes after new research from the National Literacy Trust which revealed that 44,575 children in the East of England don’t have a single book of their own.

Lisa Hynes, Development Manager, Peterborough at the National Literacy Trust commented: “So many children in our region are missing out on the vital benefits of owning their own books. Our research showed that children who own books are six times more likely to read above the level expected for their age – that’s why we’re calling on the public to give the gift of reading this Christmas.

“Sharing stories together plays such a crucial role in boosting literacy, happiness and wellbeing levels. We hope that by getting the panto cast involved we can spark the imagination of children in our local community.”

According to the Trust, last year 1 in 3 (34%) 11-year-olds in Peterborough left school unable to read at the level expected for their age, and this rose to almost 1 in 2 (48%) children from the city’s poorest communities. The ‘Give the gift of reading this Christmas’ campaign will give some children around Peterborough the first books they’ve ever owned, all with the aim of improving literacy levels in the city as part of Peterborough Reads.

Ricky Groves (EastEnders) who’s playing Buttons in Cinderella commented: “It’s quite simple. Peterborough’s down on statistics with regards to the reading capability of children in the area. So we thought we’d just add our weight to it by saying look, why not take your child down to the local library or charity shop and pick up a book they can choose themselves perhaps, and start reading to them?”

Alongside the campaign, The Cresset’s also given away 100 free tickets to children in the local community to go and watch Cinderella.

Penny Hansen, Head of Commercial Activities at The Cresset, added: “The ties between stage productions and the written word is huge. We’re delighted to be supporting the National Literacy Trust with its campaign across the city this Christmas. With the help of our wonderful cast, we’re committed to getting more families and schools inspired to read.”

Find out more about the National Literacy Trust’s ‘Give the gift of reading this Christmas’ campaign here:

You can also see more about the Peterborough Reads campaign here:

Book your tickets for Cinderella at The Cresset here:

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