A PERSONAL touch for hundreds of would-be bookworms was made possible in Oxfordshire by a grant from the Gannett Foundation.

Thousands of pounds were awarded to the county’s assisted reading charity ARCh, in Bicester, helping teach and inspire 780 children to read.

Volunteers say the grant funding awarded last year opened new doors for the charity and, with applications now open for this year’s process, have recommended all charities and community groups take part.

ARCh development manager Jane Rendle said: “We were given £3,900 from the Gannett Foundation which was basically enough to buy a new book or game for every single one of the 780 children we work with.

“Each book or game was bought to really inspire these children which our volunteers get to know each week individually.

“The youngsters might start off not seeing themselves reading but with ARCh the volunteers get to know the children and find out their interests, to try different types of games or books.

“The Gannett money was so useful to enable us to be able to buy these books that are really personal, helping to get them into reading and learn it is fun and not just something they have to do at school.”

ARCh was one of many good causes across the county has applied for a slice of funding worth up to £10,000 since the scheme started in the late 1990s.

The process is back and charities, community groups and projects are invited to get in touch and apply for their chunk of funding - given away by the Oxford Mail’s parent company Gannett Media.

Other winners alongside ARCh included Abingdon Riding for the Disabled and Katharine House Hospice.

Mrs Rendle added: “We were delighted when we found out we had got the funding and very flattered, as there are many wonderful charities in Oxfordshire.

“It obviously enabled us to buy lots and lots of books but has also hopefully given those children a love of reading in their school life and in their future.

“We do get half our funding from the schools and then the rest is a big chunk that we do get through grants and donations from all different places.

“We do not have any long term funding continuity so funding like the Gannett grant means an awful lot.

“I would definitely recommend it to others.”

Each year a special theme is chosen and this year is the needs of rural communities, although all applications that meet the general criteria will be given equal consideration.

The closing date for applications is Friday, October 14, and forms can be found at oxfordmail.co.uk/gannettfoundation

ARCh is also look for volunteers to train up in September, for more information see archoxfordshire.org.uk/