Last month Roald Dahl landed his first EVER UK number 1 in the UK book charts with The Great Mouse Plot. Unbelievable as it may sound after writing some of the world's most popular, long-standing children's books like Matilda, Fantastic Mr Fox, The Witches and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
I, like most people my age, grew up with Roald Dahl books permeating my childhood and now I have the pleasure of reliving it with my own children. Stories of The Twits brought much hilarity, the magical imaginary world of The BFG and the amazingly heroic Matilda was an inspiration to children of my generation and generations today. The pictures he painted with words, the characters he conjured up and the stories left a longstanding impact on our generation that have carved a deep mark on the history of children's literature for future children to enjoy.
However, there was so much more to Roald Dahl than his stories. His incredible life was also affected by serious illness, tragedy and loss and it was his personal experiences of illness - of his own and his close family - which spurred him to help seriously ill children and their families.
Roald Dahl believed in taking practical steps to improve the lives of those around him and his creativity and determination even helped to develop pioneering medical treatments such as the Wade-Dahl-Till valve, which benefited children across the world.
To continue Roald Dahl's legacy of helping children, shortly after his death in 1990, his wife, Felicity founded 'Roald Dahl's Marvellous Children's Charity' originally known as the Roald Dahl Foundation. Since its inception, it has helped thousands of children. It's a wonderful charity and one that we at Explore Learning has selected as our official charity partner, aiming to raise more than £12,000 for them this year.
This money will go towards funding the charity's Roald Dahl Children's Nurses who provide vital information, reassurance and support to families in hospital and at home. What they do is truly priceless to the families who, like Roald Dahl once did, are going through such terrible times. There are currently 53 Roald Dahl specialist children's nurses caring for over 15,000 children suffering from serious, rare or undiagnosed conditions in the UK. They are highly trained, senior professionals who can 'make things happen' both within the hospital and beyond, advising on a whole range of medical, emotional and social issues. Other funds will be put towards the charity's Marvellous Family Grants which provide practical support, such as respite care, counselling and play therapy to give children from disadvantaged backgrounds the best chance of having a marvellous childhood. As Felicity Dahl herself said: "As a small charity, the funds raised at Explore Learning will be a huge boost, enabling us to help seriously ill children and their families brave the unknown - together."
We had our launch in our High Wycombe centre last month and just recently one of our teams ran the Reading Half Marathon and next month, they take on the Liverpool Marathon! As well as a number of physical challenges for our most intrepid members of staff, they'll be bake sales and quizzes and we'll constantly be thinking of new ways to raise as much money as possible for this hugely worthy cause!
Roald Dahl is undoubtedly a hero to many - through his writing and through his kindness - let's help continue his legacy for years to come.
I wanted to raise awareness of the great work they do and urge anyone to donate just £10 by texting DAHL15 £10 to 70070 and do check out www.roalddahl.com/charity for more information.