AN AUTHOR from Selby has teamed up with former punk musicians and footballers to promote supporting children through reading.

Christina Gabbitas set up a national reading scheme in 2013 which has encouraged more than 20,000 children to date, and recently met bassist for The Undertones Mickey Bradley at the People's Book Prize event where they were both finalists.

Mickey, who agreed to help with this year's scheme, said: "I think this is a great way to encourage children to have a go at writing rhyming poetry, which is used a lot in writing songs. We could encourage and seek out some talent for the future. I’m looking forward to being a judge."

Children are invited to write an eight line rhyming poem about ‘The Sea’, and the school with the winning pupil’s poem will win a visit from an author, poet or illustrator, and a selection of books worth £600, with the winning poem later published in a national poetry book. More details about the initiative are available at

Earlier this month, she also met with former professional footballer Andy Woodward at the ‘Reach Out, Speak Out’ conference in Leeds.

Andy played for six clubs during an 11-year career, and announced he suffered mental health issues following abuse at the hands of scout Barry Bennell, who was previously convicted of child abuse and is currently on trial for similar offences.

He helped to launch the Offside Trust, an organisation set up to support player victims of abuse and their families, and said Christina's Share Some Secrets book, which teaches young children about abuse.

Andy said: "It is so important that we have resources like Christina’s to encourage children to come forward. If I had had access to something like this publication and resource, it would have helped me to understand that I wasn’t alone."

Last year, Christina ran 30 10km races to raise money for Childline, and is preparing to run this year's London Marathon in support of the NSPCC helpline.

She said: "I received my place by ballot which I know is very lucky. I'm going to try my utmost to take part in the marathon even if it means going quite slow. I have a prolapsed disc in my back, if this doesn't allow me to take part, I will swim the equivalent of a marathon - 6.5 miles each morning over four days."

To sponsor Christina, go to