PUPILS drew on their special connections with a local celebrity when they were looking for someone to formally open a new learning resource.

They invited celebrated author and illustrator Liz Million to perform the honours after discovering her grandfather used to be the headmaster of the school – Gurney Pease Academy, Darlington,

The 42-year-old, who has had countless children’s books published and sold around the world, officially cut the ribbon on the new Reading Shed, a brand new facility designed to promote books among the young.

After officially opening the timber shed, which has been fitted out with soft furnishing and fairy lights, she read Year 3 pupils a story and drew some original artwork for the walls based on her latest books, The Durham Ox and There’s a Crocodile in my House.

She said: “I have always had an affiliation with Gurney Pease because my Grandpa Philip Sefton was head here and I remember visiting as a child. He was such a lovely man.

“Everyone is so excited about the Reading Shed. Reading is so important and as soon as you find a book that is right for you, you will be taken on a magical journey.”

Principal Alison Sinclair said: “We want children to enjoy books and love reading so we have got pupils the Reading Shed, which is something different, innovative, a place which is inviting, quiet and cosy, for them to come and look at and read books.”

Exact Education recruitment consultant Nick Liversedge was also on hand to present the school with a donation towards equipping the shed, which will be used throughout the day by all year groups.

English lead teacher Kerry Cooper has been instrumental in obtaining the Reading Shed. She said: “Reading is the foundation of all learning. If pupils develop a love of reading then they will be able to access every opportunity.

“We have also taken care to research what boys like to read as they are more difficult to engage; so we have lots of books about sport and non-fiction. The shed will be very well used, I am sure.”