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All aboard: The Princess Royal marks the end of Save the Children’s Save With Stories initiative with the tale of Thomas the Tank Engine’s race to take `The Fat Controller` to the Queen.
UK | 02 July 2020 | Save the Children
Save the Children Patron Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, has marked the end of Save the Children’s hugely successful Save With Stories initiative by reading ‘Thomas and the Royal Engine’.


The video, which has been shared on Save the Children UK’s Instagram page, is the final installment of the fundraising initiative which has seen over 70 well-known faces reading an array of bedtime stories. As well as keeping millions of families entertained during lockdown, the initiative has helped to raise urgent funds for the charity’s Emergency Coronavirus Appeal which has so far raised £1.4m to support families in the UK and around the world whose lives have been devastated by the pandemic.

The Princess Royal became the Patron of Save the Children in 2017 after serving as President since 1970. She chose to read ‘Thomas and Friends: The Royal Engine’, a story which sees Thomas overcoming various obstacles to get ‘The Fat Controller’ to collect an award from the Queen.

The Princess Royal says in her video: “It has been my pleasure to read this book to you today, one I enjoyed when I was young”. Having travelled to over 20 countries with Save the Children The Princess Royal goes on to note that “there are many more similarities than dissimilarities particularly amongst the things that children enjoy, and story-telling is very high on that list”.

Following the success of the US campaign led by actors Jennifer Garner and Amy Adams, Save the Children Ambassador Poppy Delevingne launched the UK version of Save With Stories in mid-April at the height of lockdown. The Princess Royal joins niece-in-law Meghan Markle, who marked her son Archie’s first birthday with a reading of ‘Duck! Rabbit!’, and an array of other famous faces from the world of film, TV, theatre, music, fashion and beyond, who have all taken part. Amongst the names are actors Paul Mescal, Helen Mirren, Kate Winslet, Michael Ward and Benedict Cumberbatch, singers Rita Ora, Liam Payne and Jade Thirlwall, presenters Fearne Cotton and Jon Snow, activists Sinead Burke and George the Poet and Oscar winner Rachel Shenton, who signed a Peppa Pig story. 

Save the Children UK Ambassador Poppy Delevingne says: “It is an honour to have The Princess Royal reading the last book in our Save With Stories initiative. I was so delighted to launch the campaign here in the UK, not only to raise money for those so badly affected by the pandemic but because all these joyful readings have offered children and parents alike some respite and enjoyment during lockdown.”

Gemma Sherrington, Executive Director of Fundraising and Marketing at Save the Children says: “We are thrilled that Save With Stories has captured the imagination of families across the UK over these past 11 weeks. It feels right that after 50 years of support for Save the Children it is Her Royal Highness who read the last story. As ever we are incredibly grateful for her unwavering support.

“We must also thank all of our famous friends who have brought these stories to life every day, along with all the publishers for providing the incredible array of books, and most importantly all those who have generously donated money to help us support the millions of vulnerable children here in the UK and across the world who are feeling the impact of Coronavirus. What started as a simple idea to entertain families across the country and raise money for children around the world has turned into an incredible shared experience and the money raised by Save with Stories will be vital for families in the UK who continue to face severe hardships including food poverty and a lack of essential items.”

COVID-19 threatens children’s rights around the world, exposing them to potential risks and disrupting their lives: infectious disease outbreaks can seriously impact children’s wellbeing – both psychological and physical. Four million children in the UK lived in poverty before Coronavirus struck and millions of children were affected by the closure of schools and nurseries.

In the UK, Save the Children are supporting families with a new emergency grants programme - providing household items and help with bills to families in crisis. And around the world Save the Children are working hard to keep essential programmes going – whether through strengthening infection prevention control in a child-friendly space, making sure health facilities have the right supplies or ensuring education programmes can continue remotely.

Save With Stories has been supported by the publishing community, with Scholastic, HarperCollins Children’s Books, Andersen Press, Walker Books, Egmont and inclusive children’s bookshop, Little Box of Books, supplying books from their libraries to be featured as part of the initiative.

The videos are currently available on Save the Children UK’s Instagram and Facebook pages. To donate visit savethechildren.org.uk/savewithstories or you can text STORIES to 70008 to give a one-off donation of £5*.  All money raised will support the most vulnerable families in the UK and around the world, helping to provide supermarket vouchers, essential household items, virus protection and early learning packs.

Spokespeople are available:

Executive Director of Fundraising and Marketing at Save the Children, Gemma Sherrington and Save the Children UK Ambassador Poppy Delavigne

To arrange an interview please contact media@savethechildren.org.uk / 0044 7831 650 409.


Notes to Editors:

*Terms and Conditions

You’ll be billed £5 plus standard rate text message. We receive 100% of your donation. By texting STORIES you agree to calls about fundraising appeals, campaigns, events and other ways to support. Include NO PHONE to opt out of calls. Queries? 02070126400. Read our Privacy Policy savethechildren.org.uk/privacy The Save the Children Fund is a charity registered in England and Wales (213890) and Scotland (SC039570)


Full list of contributors to Save With Stories:

Lily James, Billie Piper, Paloma Faith, Eddie Redmayne, Kevin Bishop, Annabelle Wallis, Liam Payne, Stephen Fry, Rita Ora, Julie Walters, Joely Richardson, Karen Elson, Helen Mirren, Russell Tovey, Freya Allan, Jude Law, Shaun Dooley, Nina Wadia, Dynamo, Nicholas Hoult, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Nathalie Emmanuel, Liv Tyler, Paul O’Grady, DJ Cuppy, Jamie Dornan, Laura Bailey, Cara Delevingne, Taron Egerton, Kate Winslet, Myleene Klass, Alexandra Shipp, David Tennant, Sienna Miller, Micheal Ward, Hugh Grant, Dominic West, Gillian Anderson, Locksmith, Fearne Cotton, Ashley Walters, Luke Evans, Anya Chalotra, Thandie Newton, Natasha Kaplinsky, Charlotte Tilbury, Emilia Clark, Alexa Chung, Will Poulter, Gemma Arterton, Cush Jumbo, Juliet Stevenson, Jade Thirlwall, George the Poet, Carey Mulligan, Sophie Dahl, Leona Lewis, Chloe Delevingne, Erin O’Connor, Michael Dapaah, Jon Snow, Alan Cummings, Stanley Tucci, Naomie Harris, Sinead Burke, Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Paul Mescal, Suki Waterhouse, Rachel Shenton, Ray & Jamie Winstone, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal.


About Save the Children

Save the Children fights every single day for children’s futures. We stand side by side with children in the toughest places to be a child. In places where others won’t go, we’re there, giving everything to make sure they survive, get protected, and have the chance to learn. Every child should get to make their mark on the world and build a better future for us all.

For more information visit www.savethechildren.org.uk

About Thomas & Friends

Thomas the Tank Engine™ was created 75 years ago, by a British clergyman, the Rev W Awdry, as a storybook for his young son. That story grew to become an award-winning preschool entertainment franchise, enjoyed by families in more than 230 territories and over 60 languages across many touch-points including: TV, toys, books, apps, live attractions and much more. Thomas & Friends is available on content platforms around the world, including on Five’s Milkshake! in the UK. On YouTube, Thomas & Friends has reached over 2 billion views globally and counting. For the latest news, follow Thomas & Friends on Facebook.

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