Blackburn with Darwen Children's Literature Festival has received funding from Arts Council England.

The founder of the festival, Christina Gabbitas and BwD Libraries has secured the funding for their fifth festival to be held in October.

Christina Gabbitas, who was appointed a Coronation Champion by the Royal Voluntary Service with Her Majesty Queen Camilla, said:  “This is the most amazing news. I’m so grateful for the support from Blackburn with Darwen Libraries who share and believe in my passion for ensuring children and families from all backgrounds, cultures and abilities in the local area have access to free to attend literature festivals. We want to be inclusive, not exclusive.”

Adele Karwat, libraries manager said: “We are delighted to be able to stage Blackburn with Darwen’s 2023 Children’s Literature Festival. 

“The annual festival has become a real highlight in our calendar of events, and with the much welcome grant support from Arts Council England, promises to be the best yet. 

“The festival, with its theme of Kindness and Inclusion, will take place from Monday, October 2 to Sunday, October 8 and feature a range of authors, poets, illustrators and artists performing across each of the borough’s libraries.”

The festivals promote inclusivity and have always included a diverse range of artists which this year will include sign language from Darwen resident Danielle Tudor, who will work with Christina to teach some of the children and families to sign BSL.

Danielle, who learned BSL whilst working and studying, also volunteers on a suicide hotline said: “I would love to see BSL being offered in school settings. If everyone had basic BSL then future generations of the deaf community would not have to suffer the feelings of isolation felt by those previously.”

The theme of the seven-day festival will focus on kindness and wellbeing, and will include an initiative set up by Christina to get children writing and illustrating on the theme.

The full artist line-up will be announced soon.