Windsor Castle and No 10 Downing Street have written to Stockton schools after a charity book of primary pupils’ coronavirus lockdown experiences was published.
In two letters, representatives of HRH Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Boris Johnson thanked the “talented children” for sending them the book, which contained 50 contributions from pupils aged 4 to 10 about their lives since the pandemic hit.
The story competition, which saw 610 entries submitted, was launched in conjunction with Stockton’s Castlegate and Wellington Square Shopping Centres as part of TeesValleyCareers.com’s £750,000 expansion to deliver support and resources to the area’s primary schools.
Pupils were encouraged to write in whatever form they wished, with entries including funny limericks and online videocalls gone wrong to more series pieces about having to spend time away from loved ones.
Each child with a featured article was given a copy of Stockton Stories and a book voucher, with schools with the most successful entries awarded £100 to spend on books. Stockton Stories is still on sale, priced £2.50, from the Management Office within the Castlegate, with all proceeds going to reading charity Bookmark who help improve literacy skills in children.
The letters came as new figures showed that the TeesValleyCareers.com Primary Pilot has smashed its target for engaging schools. As the initiative was launched during the pandemic, it aimed to sign up 70 of the region’s 204 primary schools in its first two years – but after the first year is now working with 121, or 60% of all the region’s primary schools.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “The past 18 months has been difficult for everyone and, in particular, it has been a challenge for our region’s young people, who have found themselves unable to see friends and relatives, go to school or take part in hobbies or activities for months at a time.
“We’re delighted we’ve been able to assist them in telling their stories through this book, which not just gives insight into the struggles and thoughts of these students, but also helps to develop their literacy skills – and for a good cause too.
“It’s fantastic also that their efforts have been recognised at the very top, with both the Queen and Prime Minister’s offices acknowledging their hard work and talents. It’s a great result for our young people and shows the importance of our Careers.com scheme being extended into primary schools, a programme which is breaking targets and going from strength to strength.”
Wellington Square and Castlegate Shopping Centre’s Marketing Manager, Chantal Taylor added, “We were overwhelmed not only by the number of entries we received for the competition, but by the high standard of entries. It made it very difficult to choose just 50 stories to include in the book”
“It is great to be able to work in partnership with so many of our local schools to produce this charity book and to raise money to help children with their reading.”