VIDEO: Masterchef critic visits Northampton school pupils to encourage them to read

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BBC Masterchef critic William Sitwell visited a school in Northampton today (Friday) to support the Get Northants Reading campaign.

William, who is a regular face on Masterchef, visited St Mary’s Primary School in Woodside Way, Northampton today where he met school staff, reading volunteers and children.

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William is a new ambassador for children’s charity Beanstalk which was set up in 1973 to help children with their reading.

Beanstalk has more than 2.300 volunteers across England who volunteer in primary schools to work with three children every week.

William is helping the charity raise awareness across Northamptonshire, help raise funds and recruit more volunteers.

William, an award-winning editor, broadcaster and writer, said: “My children love reading. They think it’s a treat if they can stay up for 20 more minutes and read a book.”

Pupils at St Mary’s chatted with William about their favourite books and school initiatives which have been introduced to encourage them to read.

Beanstalk is working in almost 100 schools across Northamptonshire, with 130 volunteers helping almost 400 children, very week.

Greg Yarnall, area manager for Northants, said: “The aim of the campaign is to help us support more local children who are struggling with their reading to give them the vital literacy skills they need to be successful in life. We do this through the sustained commitment of volunteers, who we train to work with local primary school children aged 6-11 years who find reading a challenge.

“Our reading helpers go into a local primary school twice a week for a whole year to provide one-to-one literacy support to three children for half an hour each. This regular, individual support helps build their literacy skills, self-confidence and self-esteem – a proven, effective early intervention model.

“We know that people want to give something back to society and play an active role in their local community. With recent reports showing our literacy standards slipping against world rankings, becoming a reader helper is an amazing way to help primary schools and teachers provide the one-to-one attention that children desperately need to ensure they can reach their full potential.”

“We’d encourage anyone who has some time to spare to contact us directly if you think you could give a child the gift of reading. It’s an amazing way to give back to your local community and, with cuts likely to affect families who are already struggling to find time to support their children, it offers vulnerable young people some quality time with an adult that they might otherwise miss out on.”

“If you are a primary school looking for additional assistance I would also encourage you to get in touch so that we can work together to help us support more children.”

Beanstalk is urgently looking for volunteers.

To find out more call Beanstalk on 0845 450 0338 or 01604 720 969 or visit