A NORTH-EAST youngster is channelling his passion for reading into fundraising for two vital charities.

Four-year-old Theo Baghdasarian, from South Shields, has made the most of his time in lockdown by reading 100 books to raise money for the North East Autism Society (NEAS) and Blood Cancer UK.

So far he has raised £381 for charity – smashing his £100 target – by reading books including Thomas the Tank Engine, the Gruffalo, classic fairytales, and lots more.

His mum, Rebecca, said: “Lockdown has been tough for Theo. He enjoys being challenged, so I suggested he try to read more, and he said thought it was a good idea.

“He loves numbers, so he decided he’d read 100 books. He never fails to amaze us. His reading for his age is phenomenal, and the challenge is further improving his reading speed.

“We’ve had to buy more books to keep up with him, and hide the ones he’s already read, otherwise he’d keep reading the same ones over and over!”

Theo chose to support NEAS because of the support his family have received from the charity since he was diagnosed as autistic last year.

“NEAS have been super supportive during the lockdown,” Rebecca said, “We’ve found that autism charities can often be overlooked for funding, because unless you’re personally affected,  you don’t know the struggles people can go through.”

John Phillipson, CEO of NEAS, said: “All of us here at NEAS want to say a massive ‘well done’ to Theo for his amazing efforts on behalf of the charity. Reading 100 books in such a short time is impressive for anyone, and to do it at four years old while supporting two brilliant causes is fantastic!

“The money Theo has raised will be used to continue to offer the best possible support to families like his own throughout the North-East.”

Theo chose Blood Cancer UK as his second charity because his dad, Marc, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at age 25, but thankfully made a full recovery.

Bianca Joyce, Head of Public Fundraising for Blood Cancer UK, said: “We’re very grateful to Theo for deciding to raise funds for us – the money he has raised will go towards helping us support people affected by blood cancer and funding research into new treatments.

“We hope he has discovered lots of interesting new books through his challenge, as well as raising money for two important causes.”

Theo is now looking forward to visiting his grandparents and reading books from their collection as soon as lockdown ends.

To support Theo’s fundraising, visit www.justgiving.com/team/Baghdasarian