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UCLan community spreads Christmas cheer to sick youngsters

17 December 2015

Rachel Atkinson

A University literature project sees hundreds of books donated to young patients in the city  

Pic:
Three-year-old Evie enjoying Hide-and-Seek Pig, her new lift-the-flap book, with UCLan Vice-Chancellor Professor Mike Thomas.  

Staff and students from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) have dug deep this Christmas to bring smiles to the faces of sick children in Preston.

Youngsters on the children’s ward of the Royal Preston Hospital have received a wide variety of books this week thanks to the generosity of the University community and more will be delivered at the start of the New Year.

The UCLan Gives book buying initiative was the work of six second year English literature and creative writing students. With help from literary consultant Jake Hope and Dr Helen Day, UCLan children’s literature academic, the group selected 25 books which would appeal to a range of youngsters aged between 2 and 16.

The books were bought by members of the UCLan community and were hand delivered by the students and staff, including the University’s new Vice-Chancellor Professor Mike Thomas. In addition to the delivery, the UCLan visitors also spent time reading and talking to the young patients and their parents in a bid to help add a little festive cheer.

 

"To me it’s very important we’re part of the local community and do what we can to help so if we can bring fun and laughter to the children at this time by providing books then I’m delighted."

Avid reader Freddie, eight, gives the selection of books his thumbs up with UCLan’s Dr Helen Day and student Jessica Sneddon

Pic: Avid reader Freddie, eight, gives the selection of books his thumbs up with UCLan’s Dr Helen Day and student Jessica Sneddon.

Professor Thomas said: “There’s never a good time to be in hospital and near to Christmas is particularly tough for children and their parents. To me it’s very important we’re part of the local community and do what we can to help so if we can bring fun and laughter to the children at this time by providing books then I’m delighted as it’s a great thing to do.”

Hide-and-Seek Pig, Max the Brave, Red Sledge, The Dragonsitter, Rooftoppers, The Fastest Boy in the World, Robot Girl, The Iron Man and The Sea of Tranquility were among the books chosen for the young patients.

Jessica Sneddon was one of the students involved in the project. The 21-year-old said: “I feel very proud to be involved in a live literature project which encourages young people to enjoy reading. From being a small child I loved the excitement a book could bring and I just hope the children we’ve met today can get that same feeling.”

 

“The work the students have put into this project is phenomenal. They’ve had stalls across campus for four weeks and encouraged so many people to buy a book."

Teenager Isobel finding out more about the genre of horror books with Wendy Stocki, Royal Preston Hospital’s Play Specialist Team Leader, and children’s literature academic Dr Helen Day

Pic: Teenager Isobel finding out more about the genre of horror books with Wendy Stocki, Royal Preston Hospital’s Play Specialist Team Leader, and children’s literature academic Dr Helen Day.

Between now and January, 236 books will be donated by UCLan and an additional 90 will be provided by Silverdell, the book providing company. UCLan illustration students also got involved in the project. They created a variety of bookplate sticker designs which allowed the person making the donation to write a personal message to the child.

Dr Day commented: “The work the students have put into this project is phenomenal. They’ve had stalls across campus for four weeks and encouraged so many people to buy a book. It’s also been great to get cross course collaboration from our illustration students.”

Wendy Stocki, Royal Preston Hospital’s Play Specialist Team Leader, added: “Reading is becoming a forgotten pastime for many children but here on our play programmes we actively encourage and promote the benefits of reading both socially and independently. To receive so many new books for our patients is fantastic and I can’t thank the University enough.”