Watch as Hartlepool United manager Dave Challinor reads a story as part of fundraising appeal

Children at a private day nursery have some special guests reading to them as part of a fundraising effort for young carers.

Monday, 22nd March 2021, 12:01 pm

Hartlepool United manager Dave Challinor and two of his promotion chasing players, Ben Kilip and Mark Shelton, along with world-renowned cricket umpire Michael Gough and authors such as Rob Scragg and Rob Parker, are among those involved.

They have all recorded online videos as part of a 25-day sponsored storytelling/listening event held by Footprints Learning for Life, in Tees Street, Hartlepool.

The effort is part of the UChangeLIves25 challenge, organised by the PFC Trust charity set up by Frances Connolly, to raise £50,000 before April 2 for a respite caravan for Hartlepool’s young carers.

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Hartlepool United manager Dave Challinor has joined a reading campaign as part of a £50,000 fundraising effort to support carers in the town.

Mr Challinor read Meg at Sea from the Meg and Mog series.

Footprints hopes to recruit 25 people to join its campaign and owner Sharon Birch, who has had more than 200 short stories published as well as poetry and two books, said: “Storytelling is the most basic form of communication and it’s free.

"We all love a good story, whether it’s true or fiction, reading them or listening to them, and how better to excite young minds?

“How great it is to bring story telling into Footprints, something the children love and look forward to every day.

Vivienne Dempsey reading to the group during the storytelling challenge

"I have a large network of writing friends across the world, some famous, some not yet, but we all have storytelling in common and some have recorded videos for the children to watch as part of the sponsorship raising funds for the PFC Trust, a very worthy cause and dear to the hearts of Hartlepool.

“Storytelling is a marvellous world to be part of and I love to share it.”

The challenge started on Tuesday, March 16, to coincide with the nationwide Young Carers Action Day.

Vivienne Dempsey, the quality manager of Footprints, has also got her sister Lucy Maughan involved from her home in Atlanta, United States.

Frances Connolly founded the PFC Trust with husband Patrick after they won nearly £115m in a EuroMillions lottery draw. The trust has spearheaded the £50,000 fundraising campaign.

“It’s been brilliant so far,” said Mrs Dempsey. “The Pools players have read The Three Billy Goats Gruff, Dave has done Meg at Sea and I have read The Hairy Toe.

“We have been putting the videos on our Footprints Facebook page and the children will be sponsored to listen to the 25 stories on a daily basis.”

The PFC Trust, set up by Frances and Patrick Connolly to provide support in the community after they won nearly £115m on the EuroMillions lottery, has already helped Footprints.

Mrs Dempsey, a long-term friend of the Connollys, said: “Frances is amazing. She provided outdoor and sensory equipment for our Special Educational Needs children.

“Now we know how hard it can be for some children, so we are supporting the caravan project. We need to support those who need respite. It is extremely important and something we are very passionate about.”

Donations can be made at or text UC25PFC 3 to 70085 (you can donate any amount by changing the number 3).

Texts cost one standard rate message plus cost of donation.

The overall appeal has raised around two-thirds of its £5,000 target.

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