FIVE MINUTES WITH: Authors Cat Weldon and Bethan Woollvin

A publisher and two authors have launched Connecting Stories, a campaign to supportchildren’s literacy in Doncaster.

Thursday, 28th January 2021, 2:22 pm

Led by Doncaster Stories, from the National Literacy Trust and funded by Arts Council England, it will increase children and young people’s access to literary

experiences and books.

Authors Cat Weldon and Bethan Woollvin will be championing reading and creative writing in the community, through exciting activities such as virtual school visits.To further inspire the next generation of readers and writers, publisher Pan Macmillan are donating books to the Doncaster area.

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Cat Weldon

Children aged seven to 11 are being invited to take part in a creative writing competition with a unique theme, to be announced shortly.

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Entries will be published in one of 19 Connecting Stories anthologies and displayed in community cultural institutions.

Author Cat Weldon, (pictured above) said: “I’m delighted to be supporting Connecting Stories in Doncaster as this project is perfect for keeping children learning whilst having fun during lockdown.

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"My books are fantasy so I’m really excited about launching the writing competition ‘A Changing World’ which asks children to reimagine their world, or even conjure up a new one.

"They’ll be using their literacy skills to create a fresh bit of headspace in which they can lose themselves – a very powerful trick in times like these!”

Bethan Woollvin (pictured below), who is also an author, said: “It’s great that this project is about empowering children of all ages right from the off.

"My books are all about reimagining traditional fairytales to show young girls (and boys!) that they do not need a knight in shining armour to be a master of their own destiny, and the Connecting Stories project is similar, encouraging children to be fearlessly imaginative. I’m one of ten children so find it easy to relate to people of all ages and I can’t wait to work with Doncaster’s young minds – whether in

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person or from afar.”

Phil Sheppard, Senior Project Officer for Doncaster Stories, explained: “We can’t wait to bring Connecting Stories to Doncaster. The initiative aims to support wellbeing and promote creativity, positivity and imagination during this particularly difficult time.

"The competition will inspire stories of hope and positive change, as well as the escapism that reading and creative writing can offer.

"The response from other organisations and cultural institutions within Doncaster has been fantastic, and together we’re aiming to make the initiative as inclusive as

Bethan Woolvin

possible, engaging all Doncaster families and age groups.”

Sarah Crown, Director of Literature at Arts Council England, added: “Connecting Stories is a brilliant, creative way of supporting children’s literacy in communities

suffering disproportionately from the impact of COVID-19.

"The commitment of publishers big and small to helping children and young people connect with stories and the authors is hugely exciting, and will offer inspiration to children and families around the country, as well as a means of celebrating the unique communities and resources in local areas.

“Arts Council England is proud to support this work, and excited by the opportunities it offers, both now and in the future.”

Connecting Stories will be delivered across 14 local areas, and a total of 18 publishers and 32 children’s authors are involved.

For more information, please visit:

*The National Literacy Trust Doncaster Hub launched in 2019 and is known as Doncaster Stories. It is a community driven campaign from the National Literacy Trust, funded by Doncaster Opportunity Area, to boost literacy levels in the town. Doncaster Stories will embed a love of reading in Doncaster and raise awareness around the importance of literacy to young people’s futures. Family Hubs, Doncaster Council, DARTs, and a number of local businesses are all supporting the campaign. The charity is dedicated to improving the reading, writing, speaking and listening skills of those who need it most, giving them the best possible chance of success in school, work and life.

A spokesman said: “Our research and analysis make us the leading authority on literacy and drive our interventions. Literacy is a vital element of action against poverty and our work changes children’s life stories.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.