Thursday 19th April 2012
Dolly Parton's UK Imagination Library has delivered its 500,000th free book.
It has been posted to 11-month-old Finley Theobold, from Luton, who received the book along with a personal message from the American country music singer.
The UK Imagination Library was launched in 2007 on the back of the success of a similar project launched by Dolly in the US. The first books were distributed the following year.
Dolly said: "I can't believe we have just mailed our 500,000th book in the UK. I am so sorry I can't be there to give Finley his book in person, but just like every other month the postman will be making this delivery for me.
"It was only just a few short years ago that we mailed our first books to children in Rotherham. It's hard to believe we have grown so much in such a short time. We have come a long way but we have really only just begun. As we celebrate this milestone I'd like to thank all of our local sponsors and our partners who work so hard to make this all work for us."
In Luton, The Imagination Library's partner is Wates Giving, which has funded and distributed over 30,000 books since its launch in 2010.
Brian Wheelwright, director of Wates Family Charities, said: "The Wates family, owners of the Wates Group, are proud to support Dolly Parton's Imagination Library and its contribution to developing the reading skills of our future generations through the Wates Giving charitable programme.
"Our involvement with the scheme demonstrates our significant commitment to the communities in which Wates works, and we are thrilled that a Luton child has benefited from this milestone book."
Through Royal Mail, the programme distributes about 20,000 free books each month to children aged from one month to five years old.
Royal Mail's chief customer officer Mike Newnham said: "We are delighted our postmen and women across the UK are playing such a key role in the success of the UK Imagination Library. Helping them hit the half a million book delivery mark is something we are pleased to be part of."