CELEBRATIONS were in order for the dozens of volunteers across the county who give up their time to read with children.

A festive event was staged by children’s reading charity ARCh (Assisted Reading for Children), with about 60 of its 220 volunteers heading along to enjoy a mince pie and recognition of all their hard work.

The team from the Bicester-based organisation joined together at Kidlington Baptist Church on Tuesday for the annual Christmas do.

One volunteer also earned a special early Christmas present.

Jane Battachary, from East Oxford, was presented a long service award.

Ms Battachary has dedicated 10 years to helping children learn to read and currently works with pupils at St Mary and St John Primary School in Meadow Lane.

She was handed her award in front of her peers by Oxfordshire deputy lieutenant and former Babury MP, Sir Tony Baldry.

ARCh volunteers go into schools and work with children who are struggling with reading, by spending time with them and nurturing a love of books.

ARCh development manager Jane Rendle said: “We had our volunteer meeting which normally attracts about 100 of our volunteers although this time around the ice and snow meant people struggled to get out to the event.

“We also had Cas Lester join us as our guest speaker and she gave a great presentation about her new book ‘Do you Speak Chocolate?”

Ms Lester talked volunteers through the story of two girls who bond over the international language of chocolate.

She also spoke of her own family’s experience with dyslexia and looking at the positive aspects of it.

Ms Rendle added: “The event was a celebration of the tremendous work our volunteers have done throughout the year and also a look ahead to 2018.

“Next year marks our 10 years operating and we are calling on everyone to help bring about record numbers of volunteers next year."

To volunteer visit archoxfordshire.org.uk