Staff and children from St Matthew’s Catholic Primary School in Prudhoe, part of the Bishop Wilkinson Catholic Education Trust, are organising a 12-hour story marathon to raise money for charity and to try to make home-schooling a little more exciting.

#tuckedupthursday will be streamed from 8am to 8pm on 11th February, where guest storytellers will read children’s books, back-to-back. Readers will include Waterstone’s Children’s Laureate, Cressida Cowell, Piers Torday, winner of The Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, Gabrielle Kent, author of The Knights and Bikes and Alfie Bloom series, Jenny Pearson who wrote The Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates and celebrated picture book partnership Paul Linnet and Sue Hendra.

The story marathon is the brainchild of St Matthews’ Headteacher, Martin Gray. Martin originally launched #tuckedupthursday shortly before the first national lockdown in March 2020 when he started doing live story times for the school’s pupils on Facebook every Thursday evening. The aim was to encourage the children to read at home whilst maintaining contact with them while they were unable to attend school.

Martin says: “When the latest lockdown started in January, we decided to go one step further with #tuckedupthursday and hold a special online event to mark almost a year of our weekly story sessions, whilst raising some money too.”

“I feel a bit like the teacher in the Nativity film who promised that Hollywood would come and see their play,” continues Martin. “We had this idea of an amazing end result with top authors taking part and have had to work backwards from there! So, in a panic I sent out lots of pleas to North East and national authors and we’re astounded by the support we’ve received. It’s going to be an amazing day for everyone.”

All 158 of St Matthew’s students are being encouraged to watch the live stream on YouTube on 11th February but it’s hoped that many other children, parents and fans of the authors will also tune in.

The children have been working on delivering different stories with their class teachers, recording their own sections at home, and parents uploading them ready for the big day. The authors and teachers will do live storytelling as well as Q&A sessions, and Helen Stephen’s of ‘How to Hide a Lion’ fame will also do an illustration workshop.

Martin adds: “We’ve only recently become part of the Bishop Wilkinson Catholic Education Trust and one of the first benefits has been tapping into their technical support. Initially I was going to be delivering these stories on my iPhone, now we’ve got all the mod cons, even a green screen!”

Throughout the story marathon Martin and all those taking part will be encouraging viewers to donate money to help develop the school’s library, and also to support the World Literacy Foundation, a global not-for-profit organisation that works to life young people out of poverty through literacy.

Details of how to donate: Donations can be made to St. Matthew’s GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com and search for “St Matthews PTA fundraising”

To tune in to #tuckedupthursday on 11th February visit www.facebook.com/stmatthewsprudhoe or go directly to https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsJ13SxjEO0NhiXdR3EeOEw