Story time just got more exciting for school children who have a new reading partner.

Ten-year-old labrador, Hollie has been drafted in to help children at Gawsworth Primary School improve their literacy skills.

The black pooch will visit the school for one afternoon each week to quietly sit and listen to the children read her their favourite books.

The project is part of a programme launched by the charity Pets As Therapy (PAT), which provide animals for therapeutic visits in schools, hospitals and hospices.

Headteacher Pam Childs said: `Research has shown that many children find reading aloud a daunting experience but when reading to a PAT dog they often become less stressed and self-conscious.

`Hollie passed her temperament test with flying colours and is extremely friendly. We are really looking forward to the successful results it promises to bring.`

Pupil Lucy Holland, nine, said: `I love her, she`s absolutely gorgeous. I would like to read to her.`

Hollie`s owner, mum-of-two, Frances Gregory, 50, found out about the charity when she was at Crufts and decided it would be the perfect job for mild-tempered Hollie.

Frances – a swimming instructor from Henbury – was asked to lend Hollie to the school by friend Christine Nichols, literacy coordinator at the school, who is a fellow member of Wilmslow Dog Training Club.

Frances said: `I just thought this is a perfect job for her. She absolutely loves children. She`s been fully trained, and she`s very gentle and very loving.`

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