20 December 2022

GENEROUS businesses across Sunderland have given hundreds of youngsters the gift of reading this Christmas following a successful book campaign.

Hudson Road School has a long-held tradition of giving pupils a book during the festive season so that, over the years, they have their own set of favourite stories.

But a lack of funding meant the scheme was in jeopardy this year – until kind-hearted supporters stepped in.

The school contacted the Neighbourhood Police Team, who in turn contacted Kirsty Currie, Operations Manager at Sunderland BID, who agreed to help.

And on the last day of term, every one of the 313 pupils who attend Hudson Road Primary School was given a book to take home, with dozens more donated which will remain in classrooms.

Kirsty contacted businesses across the city as well as the Bridges, which in turn spoke to their retailers and asked them to support the initiative.

The Works, Waterstones and Great Reads in the centre all donated books, with the Sunderland Rotary SR1 group, also giving £250 to buy a selection which could also remain in school.

City centre retailers, including Nominations, Collinson’s Jewellers, Pandora, Hotel Chocolat and Harrison and Brown furniture store, donated Sunderland Gift Cards, which could be spent on books, as did Stagecoach, Empire Cinema and McDonald's.

The initiative was also supported with donations from Richard Reed Solicitors, Martin & Co and Lofthouse and Partners, which allowed Kirsty and one of the Neighbourhood Police Team to take a party of pupils out into the city last week (14 Dec) to help choose books for the school as a whole.

“The response we have had has been incredible,” said Kirsty.

“Everyone completely got behind the scheme, realising how important it was for these youngsters not to be disappointed and get a book as they do every Christmas.

“We are so grateful to all of the businesses who have given this support and have ensured this fantastic tradition can continue.”

Karen Eve, Centre Director at the Bridges, echoed Kirsty’s words.

“The Bridges and its retailers are delighted to have been able to play an active role in donating books so that the youngsters at this school can all enjoy the pleasure that reading brings.

“Everyone has worked together and really shown the true spirit of Christmas, and we really want to thank everyone for helping to make this initiative such a huge success.”

Cathy Westgate, Hudson Road Primary School headteacher, said everyone at the school was“so touched by the generosity of local businesses.”

“Our children love reading, and giving a book at Christmas is our way of making sure that every pupil has some books of their own to read at home,” she said.

“ We are very grateful to everyone who donated and made sure that all of our children will get a book for Christmas in 2022."