BLACKBURN-born author Christina Gabbitas has been recognised for her organisation of a virtual literary festival in her home borough during the coronavirus pandemic.

It was streamed to 52 schools in Blackburn with Darwen and to families and communities.

Borough mayor Cllr Derek Hardman has presented her with a special award for her work.

He said: “We are very grateful for all the work Christina has undertaken within our community in such challenging times.”

Ms Gabbitas’ festival was organised through the charity Children’s Literature Festivals from Blackburn Library with the help of library staff and a team of authors and illustrators.

She said: "The past 18 months has been challenging for everyone and children have missed out on so much, I wanted to let them know that we were still there for them. The original date had to be changed but I didn’t want to give up.”

It was the third festival that Christina has held in Blackburn with Darwen and her second mayoral award from the borough.

She also staged a separate stream into all the schools with her Believe In Magic story to more than 4,000 children in November which caught the imagination of Call The Midwife and Railway Children actress Jenny Agutter.

It was also animated and projected onto Blackburn Town Hall.

She said: “Growing up a shy and introverted child on Blackburn fire station, I could never have dreamt that I would be encouraging other children to read and feel very privileged to be able to help and receive such an accolade from the mayor.”