School reading buddy says thank you

December 17, 2019

A woman with a learning disability is arranging a Christmas party to thank the pupils at Castle Cary Community Primary School where she listens to the children read.

Felicity Freeman has Down’s syndrome, and visits the school every week. She has been awarded a Small Sparks grant from the Discovery Community Fund, administered by Somerset Community Foundation, to pay for a party with balloon modelling and a visit from Father Christmas. Small Sparks grants up to £500 are available to people with learning disabilities who would like to start a new group in their community.

The volunteering started when Felicity, who is supported by Discovery in Castle Cary, told her support workers how much she loves children. Discovery provides person-centred support for people with learning disabilities and autism on behalf of Somerset County Council.

Jill Stenhouse, one of her support workers, visited the head teacher to see if Felicity could become a ‘reading buddy’ at the school. Jill said: “Felicity loves to engage with the children and the staff tell me that the children interact with her so well, it’s really lovely. She’s very popular.”

Sarah Martin, the Head Teacher at Castle Cary School said: “She really enjoys listening to the children read and we know because of her hand gestures, it’s a really nice session. It’s been an education for the children to see someone with a learning disability. They always say “Hello Felicity” when they see her out and about in the town.”

The party is being held on Tuesday 17th December at Yarlington Community Hall in Castle Cary and fifty-six children are invited to the celebration.

Small Sparks grants are awarded by the Discovery Community Fund which opened for the first time in early 2019. The fund supports community projects for people with additional needs throughout Somerset. To find out more about the fund and how to apply for a grant, call Andrew Ridgewell, Programmes Manager at Somerset Community Foundation on: 01749 344949 or email:

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