Pupils brought their favourite teddy bears to Swindon’s Central Library to celebrate the 10th anniversary of a children’s book by a local author.

Children from Drove and Holy Rood Infant schools sat down to listen to Neil Griffiths read several of his books, including Itchy Bear, his bestseller.

Neil, who was the headteacher of Westlea Primary School for 13 years, was also at the library to promote the Summer Reading Challenge, a scheme which tasks children to read six books over the summer holidays.

Neil said: “I do a lot of work with Swindon Libraries because I’m a local author, I used to be a local headteacher here, so I want to support them.

“And one of my books, called Itchy bear, is 10 years old this week so I thought it would be an ideal opportunity to have a 10th anniversary celebration.

“We’re trying to promote the Summer Reading Challenge, which starts as soon as the children break up for their holidays.”

Itchy Bear follows the story of a bear who has an itch which he tries in vain to rid himself of by scratching against various objects, before he discovers it is a butterfly tickling him.

Neil has written 32 children’s books over the last 15 years but Itchy Bear is his most popular, and has sold about 30,000 copies worldwide. To celebrate the anniversary, he held parties at West Swindon, North, Central and Highworth Libraries this week.

Neil said: “It was brilliant. The children were so responsive.

“And for me there’s nothing nicer as a children’s author than to see that wonderful look on children’s faces when you know you’ve drawn them into the story, and you know you’ve got them in the palm of your hands.” Teacher Christine Kerrigan, of Holy Rood Infants, said: “It was wonderful.

“The children really enjoyed it, they were all enthusiastic and they sat for an hour which reception children never do.”