Sunday, 23 June 2024
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Sunday, 23 June 2024

Imelda Staunton narrates children’s picture book for ShelterBox’s winter appeal

Imelda Staunton narrates children's picture book for ShelterBox’s winter appealAn unlikely trio has teamed up in support of the latest fundraising campaign by the international disaster relief charity, ShelterBox. The Westcountry-based charity specialises in emergency shelter for people who have been driven from their homes by disaster, conflict, or the climate crisis.  

Actress Imelda Staunton, children’s author Sarah Tagholm, and illustrator Karen George have collaborated on a special project to help launch the charity’s winter fundraising appeal that will fund its responses around the world. 

Imelda Staunton said:

“It’s hard to fathom that 110 million people around the world – nearly double the number of people in the entire UK – are displaced, having had to leave their homes because of disaster, conflict, or the climate crisis.  

“For people without adequate shelter – having had no other safe option but to leave homes, livelihoods, belongings and loved ones behind, the winter months can make it even more difficult. 

“I’ve been a supporter of ShelterBox for years – their responses to disasters providing families with emergency shelter and other essential items is simple but tangible. Like solar lights for dark nights, water filters for drinkable water, thermal blankets to stay warm, and shelter so people can protect their families from the cold, wind, and rain.  

“So, when ShelterBox asked me to narrate their film based on the experiences of families they met after the earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria, I was glad to be able to support their appeal and help raise awareness for displaced people, families, and communities around the world.” 

Conflict and disaster do not stop with the arrival of winter and its winter fundraising appeal highlights how displaced people in some parts of the world, like Syria, Türkiye, Morocco, Libya, and Ukraine are facing sub-zero temperatures this winter, without the basics needed to survive. Shelter and basic items like thermal blankets, winter clothing, and clean drinking water. 

The campaign is inspired by the people the charity is supporting in Syria and Türkiye following the series of devastating earthquakes earlier this year. 

Imelda Staunton has voiced a children’s picture book written by children’s author Sarah Tagholm for a short campaign film. ‘In The Cold Night’ raises awareness of the threat the cold poses to people fleeing conflict and disaster.  

Imelda Staunton has experience bringing stories to life, famously narrating the audiobooks of Julia Donaldson including The Gruffalo and The Snail and the Whale.   

Sarah is the author of picture books Wolves in Helicopters and Sam Francisco King of the Disco. Her next book We are the Wibbly is published by Bloomsbury in March.

Sarah, who spends the first part of her week working as a celebrity liaison for ShelterBox, said:

“Being surrounded by the voices of the people ShelterBox supports helped give me an idea of how living through an earthquake might feel to a child. 

“Writing in first person is always my preference and after chatting to ShelterBox staff who had met families affected by the earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria and reading the transcripts of the interviews, I developed a voice, and the plot came easily – I even managed to sneak in a cat! 

“Picture books are usually 12 spreads but being primarily for social media we needed to cover it in six. I think we managed to keep its character despite being so few words and once the manuscript was agreed it was all about who would be best placed to illustrate the work.” 

The book is beautifully illustrated by Karen George.  

Karen said:

Whilst researching for the illustrations for this ShelterBox project, it has at times been heart-rending to read about, and respond to, the devastating stories of people’s lives suddenly torn apart by earthquakes, losing loved ones and their homes. But amidst the desolation, these stories also have a sense of hope, brought about by the passion and determination of the ShelterBox workers and volunteers.   

“As an illustrator, I feel very fortunate to have been able to contribute in a small way to the ShelterBox story, as they continue to help rebuild the lives of families and communities across an ever-challenging world.” 

Sarah added:

“Karen’s illustrations are incredibly heartwarming, and she has a great talent for capturing children’s emotions and movement. I loved her work for James Catchpole’s, ‘What happened To You?’ so when Karen sent us a character study of the Nana, she utterly broke our hearts, and I knew we had found our illustrator.  

We knew we wanted Imelda to narrate the story right from the very start of the project but of course she is The Queen and always in demand so I wasn’t sure she would have the time. We were over the moon when she agreed. I knew her delivery would be spot on, but despite having read the story hundreds of times I did have to quietly wipe away a tear whilst filming. 

“It’s been incredible seeing every part come together to create a beautifully poignant animated film produced by Bull and Wolf, and one I hope helps us raise funds to support more displaced people around the world with emergency shelter.” 

The Cornwall-based charity has supported more than 2.5 million people across around 100 countries around the world. In its cold weather responses, the charity works from the inside out to help people survive, providing simple items that make a tangible difference and turning shelters into homes. No response is the same, but it provides a combination of winter clothing, thermal blankets, and mattresses to help keep people warm, stoves and tent bases to help make shelters warm, and then tents and shelter materials to protect people from harsh winds and heavy rains. With power blackouts, it also provides solar lights so when darkness falls families can still have a sense of normality.  

  •  £30 could provide a family with a sleeping mat and thermal blankets
  • £60 could provide a family with a water filter giving them access to clean drinking water
  • £350 could provide a family with a tent, a space for a family to call home

To find out more about ShelterBox’s winter fundraising appeal, please visit:


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