Video: New chapter for magical Leeds story telling wonderland

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Intrepid adventurers wandered down the Yellow Brick Road and stepped into a giant story book to mark a new chapter of a storytelling wonderland.

Families in Leeds are being inspired to pick up a book and build on their love of reading at a new venture in west Leeds.

Youngsters at The Rainbow Factory in Farsley

Youngsters at The Rainbow Factory in Farsley

Classic and modern storybooks are magically brought to life at The Rainbow Factory which officially opened its doors yesterday.

The innovative project is the brainchild of 32-year-old Hazel Merlino, of Guiseley, and her 33-year-old sister Sarah Underwood, who lives in Pudsey.

Hazel said: “Turning our dream into a reality has been a real labour of love for us and we just hope everyone who visits the Rainbow Factory finds it as magical as we do.”

She added: “Sarah and I grew up with a love of books and we are both passionate about helping to ensure future generations discover the joy and pleasure that it can bring.”

Lydia Toumazou reads stories at The Rainbow Factory.

Lydia Toumazou reads stories at The Rainbow Factory.

And they felt Leeds was the ideal place to begin as Government figures show almost 1,000 pupils left primary schools in Leeds last year with below-average reading skills.

Almost one in seven of the 11-year-olds who took standard assessment tests (SATS) in the city last summer failed to reach the expected Government target.

Hazel said: “Our aim is to transform lives, to inspire, to reawaken the imagination ‑ all through the simple joy of reading.

“Libraries are closing and it’s all too easy to switch on the TV or grab a games console.”

She added: “So we wanted to create an environment that would encourage more children into the world of books, where they could really experience their magic.”

Young visitors are encouraged to get crafty in the creative kitchen and they also went on a bear hunt.

The Farsley centre has already been hailed by Virgin Group founder Richard Branson as an inspiration to budding entrepreneurs and was one of just six new businesses from around the country to be named Virgin StartUp Ambassadors.

GET LEEDS READING

As part of the Yorkshire Evening Post’s Get Leeds Reading campaign we are on a mission to recruit an army of 50 people to sign up as volunteer reading helpers with our campaign partner, literacy charity Beanstalk.

Our reading campaign also urges parents and carers to spend at least 10 minutes EVERY day reading with their children.

To find out more about becoming a volunteer reading helper contact westyorkshire@beanstalkcharity.org.uk.

Alternatively for more details contact 0845 450 0344 or visit www.beanstalkcharity.org.uk.

For possible use in the YP From the Archive series.''10th May 1988''THE MIGHTY Mallard, pride of Britain's railway history, puffed into Leeds Station today with a raging thirst.''It was pulling such a heavy load - 12 carriages carrying 250 top Post Office customers and stamp collectors - that it needed extra water supplies at Holbeck.''"The last thing we wanted was the boiler blowing up on Britain's pride and joy," said Mr Philip Round, Post Office Information Officer.''Mallard was making a special run across the Pennines from Manchester Victoria to mark two major anniversaries:

Leeds nostalgia: Mallard pulls into Leeds to mark 50th anniversary of world speed record... in 1988