Members of the public can sign up for the National Literacy Trust's Where's Wally charity fun run event and take on various challenges across Swindon.
On the weekend of 19 March 2022, hundreds of runners, families and book lovers will once again take to the streets dressed as popular children’s book character Where’s Wally? and run, jog or walk to raise funds and awareness for the National Literacy Trust.
Supported by Walker Books, publishers of Where’s Wally?, the virtual event is open to everyone across the UK to show off their Wally stripes and take on a 10k, 5k or 1k challenge, for kids under 12 in their local area.
After the success of the 2021 event - which raised over £74,000 for the charity - the annual fun run remains virtual this year, in order to allow participants nationwide to join in and run, walk or jog their chosen distances wherever they are on the weekend of 19 March.
Jonathan Douglas CBE, Chief Executive of the National Literacy Trust, said: “Once again, I really look forward to seeing hundreds of Wallys walking, jogging and running around the country in all their red and white striped glory in aid of our charity. It is so uplifting to see a much-loved children’s book character bringing together families, runners, book lovers and many more for such a fun and positive fitness challenge for a good cause. Every single runner taking part will help our mission to change the life stories of disadvantaged children in the UK.”
The National Literacy Trust team say they already have a close relationship with Swindon, and that they would love to see as many Wallys as possible from the area getting involved.
Jonathan added: “There are still many communities with low levels of literacy which can seriously affect people’s lives. One of the impacts of the pandemic is nearly two years of disruption to education services, and the National Literacy Trust is working tirelessly to support schools and families whose children have had their literacy and learning most adversely affected. That’s why we need your help to ensure that we can continue to be there for the children who need us most. Thank you to everyone who has already signed up to the Weekender – I’ll be out and about looking out for all the other Wallys. To those still thinking about it, take a chance on Wally and let’s change a young person’s life story together.”
Swindon Stories is a campaign from the National Literacy Trust which aims to equip the town’s children and young people with the literacy skills they need to succeed in life. It is delivered in partnership with Swindon Borough Council, with funding from Arts Council England and WHSmith.
Once registered for the Weekender, all runners will be able to order their free Where’s Wally? costume, complete with glasses and bobble hat, ready for the weekender. Every ‘Wally’ taking part will also receive a collectable medal and a virtual goody bag on completion of their challenge. Participants can also share their efforts on social media by using the hashtag #whereswallyweekender and tagging the National Literacy Trust @literacy_trust.
Matt Oldfield, author, said: “I’m so excited to be part of the Where’s Wally? Weekender this year. I am passionate about getting children into reading and improving literacy levels through the medium of sport, and this fun run is a brilliant example of this. The National Literacy Trust works really hard to provide reading and writing support to those who need it most – and I have loved working with them on several sport and literacy projects.
“I can’t wait to wear my Wally stripes with pride and cheer on all the other Wallys supporting such a great cause.”
All the money raised from the Where’s Wally? Weekender will go towards the National Literacy Trust’s vital work to help children across the UK who most need literacy support, providing them with a route out of poverty and a chance to change their life story.
To inspire a nationwide Wally ‘takeover’, the National Literacy Trust is calling on people and groups from around the UK to take part. Whether it be families and friends, running clubs, book clubs, school initiatives, hobby groups, work colleagues, sports teams or those simply looking for a fun way to work out, the Where’s Wally? Weekender is open to all. Along with a brilliant team from Walker Books, other teams can virtually compete to win the fastest team award and raise the most money.
What’s more, co-authors of the popular book Play Like Your Heroes: Pro tips for becoming a top footballer, Matt Oldfield and Seth Burkett are also supporting the event. Matt and Seth will be wearing their Wally outfits and spreading the word on social media to encourage people to sign up to the fun run and raise money for the National Literacy Trust, a charity both authors have worked with closely.
Seth Burkett, writer and former professional footballer, said: “I know first-hand how engaging in sport and fitness can encourage children to discover the magic of reading. The Where’s Wally Weekender is a fantastic way to do something fun and active while also celebrating the joys of reading and supporting the National Literacy Trust in their vital work.
“Reading is such an important skill and I am proud to be part of a sea of Wallys dressing up and doing their bit to help lots of children on their way to brighter futures.”
Ed Ripley, Sales and Marketing Director at Walker Books, said: “We are so excited to be a part of the Where’s Wally? Weekender for another year. It is always brilliant to see hundreds of Wally fans of all ages donning their best stripes to raise money for a fantastic charity and bringing the fun of the Where’s Wally? stories to life. We hope that Wally can continue to inspire people to keep reading and to get active. The team at Walker Books can’t wait to take on the challenge and will be looking out for other groups of Wallys along the way.”
More information on register for the 2022 Where’s Wally? Weekender can be found at: literacytrust.org.uk/whereswally