A Swindon firm has seen to it that every primary school in the country will have access to a book which helps children cope with sadness.
The book, Sadsville, is the work of TV personality and children's author Martin Roberts, co-presenter of Homes Under the Hammer and a passionate supporter of the NSPCC and Childline.
He recently began a campaign to raise funds to produce a special edition of Sadsville to be sent to every primary school, along with specially-written teaching and study materials.
Martin mentioned the campaign to Martin Tedham, chairman of Blagrove-based pharmaceutical packaging and testing specialists the Wasdell Group, who he knows through a mutual love of horse racing.
Mr Tedham then suggested that his firm make a £50,000 donation to enable the 23,000 books to be printed and distributed.
Martin Roberts said: “I was overwhelmed by such a generous donation. It is the highest donation we’ve had by far, and has allowed us to fast-track the production of the book so we can get it, and the teaching materials that go with it, into every primary school in the UK at the start of the new term.
"The timing is great, because we know from the NSPCC that children aged 11 and under are the group most emotionally affected by the coronavirus lockdown and all that has entailed.”
In 2017 Martin set up his own charity, the Martin Roberts Foundation, to support educational and well-being initiatives for children and young people.
One of his first initiatives was to write his whimsical illustrated work of fiction, Sadsville, which encourages children to solve problems and deal with their emotions.
Through gentle humour, the book helps young readers feel confident about sharing how they feel when life seems overwhelming, and gets them to reach out for support if they need it.
Martin Tedham said that when he heard about the positive feedback that teachers had already given the foundation regarding the book, he felt strongly that as many children as possible should be able to read it.
He added: “As a group that works within the pharmaceutical sector, we are very aware of the physical impact covid-19 has had on so many patients.
“But of course the impact on mental health is also very significant, and it’s very concerning that younger children are often finding it so difficult to cope.
"Sadsville is a brilliant mechanism for helping children understand why they may be experiencing feelings that are new or difficult to process, and it’s also a powerful way for teachers and parents to start opening up conversations with young people on why it’s perfectly OK to flag up that they’re not feeling OK.”
Sadsville, illustrated by Jackie Geoghegan, is available from www.martinrobertsfoundation.org.uk/shop and costs £7.99. Profits go to the Martin Roberts Foundation.
The website also contains support materials for parents, carers and teaching staff - and a video version of the book being read by Basil Brush.