By Ginny Lunn, Beanstalk CEO 

The last few weeks have flown by, the school term is drawing to a close and festive celebrations are underway.

It’s been lovely to travel the country to join some of our staff and volunteers for their end of term celebrations.  Being able to meet staff and volunteers, to hear their stories, successes and feedback, is one of the best bits of the job…so thank you!

We certainly have been busy these last few months.

9,248 children have been supported by our 2,704 reading helpers. And our London team has recently celebrated reaching 1,000 volunteers – an absolutely incredible achievement!

We’ve acted on feedback from schools and reading helpers to provide more information on our impact for children. We’ve now launched the new Reading Records which will serve as an excellent way of measuring the impact our service has and help guide best practice. We look forward to receiving more feedback throughout next year.

I’m delighted to share with you the news that The Worshipful Company of Information Technologists have agreed to support us to transform our IT system. Work is currently underway to bring about these upgrades, and we’re all very excited to see the results.

We were also proud to host some thought-provoking events with Lynton Crosby and Peter Snow, which helped us bring new members into the Beanstalk family.

December 11th saw us introduce our new fundraising moment, ‘Beanstalk Beanie Day’, which we hope will build momentum year-on-year. I’d like to thank you for all the great fundraising ideas, which we’ll be unveiling in the future!

I was also very proud to sit on the panel for the launch of the ‘Vision for Literacy Business Pledge 2016’. It was a privilege to hear about all the ways in which businesses across the country are helping to support improvements in literacy in the UK.

The Read On. Get On. campaign, of which Beanstalk is a founding member,  has also gone from strength-to-strength in helping to ensure that every child in the UK will be able to read to the required level by the age of 11, by 2025. This Christmas, our partner organisation Save the Children UK have teamed up with Sainsbury’s and the author Judith Kerr to bring us ‘Mog’s Christmas Calamity, which has proved very popular – the advert for the book has reached over 23,000,000 Youtube views!

And so, the holidays approach… 

I’ve always loved this time of year – a time when lights are turned on to brighten the dark winter days. I have lights all around my home and they will be staying there until the evenings get lighter.

It’s also a time of so many wonderful children’s stories, my personal favourites are Raymond Briggs’ Snowman and Father Christmas. My partner loved The Polar Express, we watched it every year with the children of the family, even as they turned into adults. I will watch it again this year.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and New Year and have a lovely time with your family, loved-ones and friends.