Peterborough panto stars give the gift of reading while kids enjoy free show

The Cresset and Premier Pantomimes have teamed up with the National Literacy Trust to give children in Peterborough the gift of reading this Christmas.

Saturday, 14th December 2019, 6:54 am

In support of a National Literacy Trust campaign, members of The Cresset’s panto cast including audience favourite and panto veteran Ricky Groves (EastEnders), Pete McCrohon, Zach Vanderfelt and Larry Stubbings recorded a short video promoting the power of reading.

This comes after new research from the National Literacy Trust revealed that 44,575 children in the East of England do not have have a single book of their own.

Lisa Hynes, development manager for Peterborough at the National Literacy Trust, said: “So many children in our region are missing out on the vital benefits of owning their own books. Our research showed that children who own books are six times more likely to read above the level expected for their age – that’s why we’re calling on the public to give the first of reading this Christmas.

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The Cresset panto of Cinderella. Photo: Chris Brudenell

“Sharing stories together plays such a crucial role in boosting literacy, happiness and wellbeing levels. We hope that by getting the panto cast involved we can spark the imagination of children in our local community.”

According to the trust, last year one in three (34 per cent) of 11-year-olds in Peterborough left school unable to read at the level expected for their age, and this rose to almost one in two (48 per cent) children from the city’s poorest communities. The ‘Give the gift of reading this Christmas’ campaign will give some children around Peterborough the first books they have ever owned, all with the aim of improving literacy levels in the city as part of Peterborough Reads.

Ricky, who is playing Buttons in Cinderella, said: “It’s quite simple. Peterborough’s down on statistics with regards to the reading capability of children in the area. So we thought we’d just add our weight to it by saying look, why not take your child down to the local library or charity shop and pick up a book they can choose themselves perhaps, and start reading to them?”

Alongside the campaign, The Cresset has also given away 100 free tickets to children in the local community to come and watch Cinderella.

Penny Hansen, head of commercial activities at The Cresset, added: “The ties between stage productions and the written word is huge. We’re delighted to be supporting the National Literacy Trust with its campaign across the city this Christmas. With the help of our wonderful cast we’re committed to getting more families and schools inspired to read.”

Find out more about the National Literacy Trust’s ‘Give the gift of reading this Christmas’ campaign, visit:

To read more about the Peterborough Reads campaign visit: