A children's literature festival that was set to take place in April has been reimagined as a virtual event.

Blackburn Children's Literature Festival was sadly postponed due to the coronavirus lockdown, but founder of the festivals, Christina Gabbitas, said the event will now be going ahead, with a heavy virtual influence.

Ms Gabbitas said the ‘Virtual’ Schools Fest will give all of Blackburn with Darwen's 63 schools an opportunity to experience live author/illustrator sessions on September 17 and 18.

She said: "Each school will receive their own personal invitation to join the event.

"I am so grateful to Newground, Blackburn with Darwen Council, Blackburn Library and Blackburn BID for supporting my enthusiasm to make this work and reach more children who have suffered during lockdown.

"We want to help bring some positivity and enthusiasm about stories, books, words and illustration with an explosion of creativity to children's lives.

"Lockdown has affected everybody in ways we could have never imagined.”

The virtual event will feature artists including award-winning author Salma Zaman, Blue Peter Book Award Winner, Andy Seed, Edinburgh Festival author Stuart Reid, National Poetry Day ambassador Matt Goodfellow, and local award-winning illustrator Ursula Hurst.

On the evening of September 17, Blackburn-born Ms Gabbitas will also be holding a socially distanced event in Blackburn Central Library with her story, No More Knives, which was commissioned by the Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner's Office.

The story has been endorsed by various police personnel, and focuses on a group of friends who are groomed into county lines activity before realising the dangers of carrying knives for protection.

Aimed at teachers, parents, carers and anyone who works in child protection, the event is being held on September 17 from 6.30pm-8.00pm in Blackburn Central Library.

As well as organising the virtual festival, Ms Gabbitas has also been commissioned by Blackburn BID to write a story about Blackburn town centre, with a view to the book being released in late October.

She added: "I met with the team in January, but have since changed the story to reflect our changing world with Covid-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement.

"I was born in Sumner Street in Blackburn in the old fire station, and the listed tower appears in the story along with Blackburn Museum, King Georges Hall, the old police station, Blackburn Library, Blakey Moor School, Blackburn College, and The Mall."

For further information about Ms Gabbitas' Blackburn story visit: believeinmagicbtc.com

More information on the knife crime project can be found here: nomoreknofecrime.com.

And any teachers wanting information on the virtual literature festival should email info@christinagabbitas.com or call 07852 804999.