The work of a Nailsworth-based charity that continued to bring the power of stories to children in hospital throughout the pandemic is featuring on the BBC Radio 4 Appeal this week.
Broadcast on Sunday 13th February at 7.54am and 9.25pm and again on Thursday at 17th February at 3.25pm, Hannah Beynon presents the appeal on behalf of Read for Good and shares how the charity’s books and storytellers helped her teenage son process a cancer diagnosis.
From a pilot in three children’s hospitals back in 2010, Read for Good’s bright-orange mobile bookcases and storytellers have operated in all 30 of the UK’s major children’s hospitals since 2015, including Gloucestershire Royal. Brand-new books are supplied every six weeks and the charity ordinarily also provides in-person storytelling, with storytellers operating remotely over the pandemic to deliver virtual sessions.
Hannah, who lives in Cornwall said: “When my 13-year old son William had a winter cough that wouldn’t go away we took him to hospital for tests as a precaution. I never expected to be told he had cancer. My outdoorsy, life-loving teenager faced weeks of chemotherapy and isolation. The impact on his mental health especially worried me.”
It was at the Royal Hospital for Cornwall in Truro just after his diagnosis that William first met Mike, a Read for Good storyteller. Hannah continues:
“Mike had such a calming effect – he got William chatting about the things he loves – bikes, the beach, science. When Mike said he could choose any book, William had something to focus on other than his fear. I will never forget watching the tension literally drop from his body as he flicked through the books. Having picked a novel to disappear into, he was smiling and I saw William again, not the cancer,” she said.
Read for Good’s books and stories have continued to help in the two years since his diagnosis as William’s treatment has continued – both in Truro and at the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children – whether it’s the latest thriller that takes William’s mind off chemotherapy, or Mike’s stories of legendary Cornish warriors.
Chief executive at Read for Good, Justine Daniels said: “We all know the power of a good story, but in hospital – for children like William – this becomes magnified. Transporting children in hospital to imaginary worlds can help them process trauma and relieve anxiety, supporting their mental health and well-being at the most difficult time. Many of the fantastic hospital schools and play teams we work with are still operating under Covid restrictions with limits on visitors and other activities so it’s even more important that we’ve been able to continue to spark joy at a time and in a place where a little distraction goes such a long way.”
Read for Good’s work in hospitals is partly funded by schools running its long-established Readathon; with fundraising impacted by the pandemic the opportunity to feature on the BBC Radio 4 Appeal was welcomed. The first £15,000 that the Appeal raises will be match-funded by The Booksellers Association and National Book Tokens, who have supported the charity since 2013 in its work to encourage children to develop a life-long love of reading by finding the books they love.
National Book Tokens Managing Director Alex de Berry said: “National Book Tokens and The Booksellers Association are incredibly proud to be able to support this appeal. We have worked with Read for Good for many years, supporting their fundraising in schools and the very important work they do to ensure that books are available to hundreds of children in hospitals across the UK.”
To listen to the appeal and donate please visit: