The Wasdell Group, which has its headquarters at Blagrove in Swindon, has donated £50,000 to enable every primary school in the country to have access to a book that helps children cope with feelings of sadness – particularly those caused by lockdown.
TV personality Martin Roberts, who co-presents Homes Under The Hammer, is also a children’s author and a passionate supporter of the NSPCC and Childline. He set up his own charity to support educational and well-being initiatives for children and young people in 2017. One of his first initiatives was to write a whimsical illustrated fictional book that encourages children to solve problems and deal with their emotions. Through gentle humour, Sadsville helps the young reader feel confident about sharing how they feel when life seems overwhelming, and gets them to reach out for support if they need it.
Martin Roberts recently began a campaign to raise funds to produce a special edition of Sadsville to be sent to every primary school in the country, along with specially written teaching and study materials. When he mentioned the campaign to Wasdell chairman Martin Tedham, whom he met through a mutual love of horse-racing, Tedham suggested that the Wasdell Group make the financial contribution that would enable the 23,000 books needed to be printed and distributed.
“I was overwhelmed by such a generous donation,” said Martin Roberts.
“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.”
Martin Tedham said that when he heard about the positive feedback that teachers have already given the foundation about Sadsville, he felt strongly that as many children as possible should be able to read the book.
“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,” said Martin Tedham.
“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, written by Martin Roberts and illustrated by Jackie Geoghegan, is available from www.martinrobertsfoundation.org.uk/shop and costs £7.99. Profits go to the Martin Roberts Foundation, which is a registered charity. The website also contains support materials for parents, carers and teaching staff – along with a video version of the book being read by Basil Brush.