THE Duchess of Cornwall came face to face with a lion as she celebrated reading and literacy with hundreds of schoolchildren.

Camilla, who is patron of the National Literacy Trust, was attending a Middlesbrough Reading Campaign event.

During her visit she attended a creative writing workshop, listened to poetry and met the town's football mascot, Roary the Lion.

The workshop at Middlesbrough's Central Library, led by childrens author Vivian French, saw children tell the Duchess about the story they had written.

Sitting down on a chair in front of the class, Camilla, wearing a green dress and jacket, said: "It's very nice to be in Middlesbrough. I would love to hear all about it."

She was asked to read out three possible titles for the story, which the children then voted on.

Later, she was joined on a stage outside by the winners of the Love Middlesbrough poetry competition, along with about 500 children who cheered and clapped.

The Northern Echo:

The Duchess then took part in a children's book giveaway outside a Middlesbrough Football Club bus before moving on to the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art.

Presenting an award to two volunteers, she said: "I want to thank everyone for the wonderful work you are doing here in Middlesbrough.

"I have seen the self-confidence the children have from it and it seems you are going from strength to strength."

Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust, said: "We're delighted to have Her Royal Highness support our work in raising the profile of literacy in Middlesbrough.

"Literacy is one of our biggest concerns.

"Today is celebrating a big campaign which has been kicking off over the last few months and we want to get the whole of Middlesbrough reading."