Today is Roald Dahl day - here's how it helps thousands of seriously ill children in the UK

Do you remember your first Roald Dahl book? The Twits, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The BFG?

Friday, 13th September 2019, 10:54 am
Updated Friday, 13th September 2019, 11:54 am
Zaris-Angel Hator with mum Fida (left) and nurse Edith.

There can be few storytellers whose tales have left their imprint on so many children.

Whether it was his bellowing sense of fun, his magical ability to conjure language, his championing of the underdog or simply his gift to spin a great yarn - there is something to love.

So it came as no surprise when the first Roald Dahl Day was unleashed upon the world on September 13, 2006, on what would have been the writer’s 90th birthday.

This annual, global celebration of the author, his stories and characters was joined by people from 140 countries last year.

And so, to this year’s festivity which is placing gutsy heroine, Matilda, and the bravery she inspires at its heart.

The eponymous star of one of Roald Dahl’s most popular stories, screen and stage is in the spotlight once again as fans, young and old, are invited to unleash their inner Matilda.

Today schoolchildren will be dressing up as Roald Dahl characters and donating £1 to Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity which helps seriously ill children to overcome life’s toughest challenges.

The charity does this through funding specialist children’s nurses with an overall aim to help every seriously ill child lead a marvellous life.

It was set up more than 25 years ago and today there are 75 Roald Dahl Nurses caring for more than 21,000 seriously ill children across the UK at any one time. The nurses work

directly with the child and family, supporting them in the community and within the hospital setting.

The charity believes that every seriously ill child should have a specialist nurse and receive equal access to and the best quality care.

The average caseload of a Roald Dahl Nurse is approximately 300, although many Roald Dahl Nurses have several hundred more children in their care.

Someone who has benefitted directly from the charity’s work is Zaris-Angel Hator, whose courageous journey is a tale worthy of its own title.

The 15-year-old sickle cell patient was inspired and empowered by her Roald Dahl Nurse, Edith, to manage her condition and secure a very special part indeed - playing the title role in Matilda the Musical in the West End in 2016.

“I love reading and am a huge Roald Dahl fan so it is really special to be looked after by a Roald Dahl Nurse,” said Zaris-Angel. “Edith has really helped me understand and manage my condition and it felt like destiny when I was offered the role of Matilda, one of my favourite all-time characters."

Zaris-Angel, who is also a TV actress, has appeared in Victoria, Endeavour and the adaptation of David Walliam’s The Midnight Gang.

“Zaris embodies all of Matilda’s traits – she’s brave, smart and fearless – so she was absolutely perfect for the role,” said Edith. “She’s had to deal with some big challenges with her health but she’s been a fantastic patient and an inspiration to me and her peers. Roald Dahl Day is an excellent opportunity to have some fun through dressing up and raise money for this marvellous cause.”

To mark Roald Dahl day, there’s a new book for fans, Matilda’s How To Be Brave, celebrating the diverse forms of bravery inspired by the story’s characters and brimming with extracts and activities, with character illustrations by Quentin Blake.

And if you find yourself in Roald Dahl’s home village of Great Missenden, duck into The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre on September 14 when visitors can try out the “13 Ways to Be Brave at the Museum”.

For more details on Roald Dahl Day, visit www.roalddahl.com/roald-dahl-day.