THE EVENING Advertiser unveiled its new mascot at the opening of Swindon's biggest bookstore.

Alfie the Alligator joined children from Blunsdon St Andrew's C of E Primary School to cut the ribbon at Borders in the Orbital Retail Park in North Swindon.

Alfie will be appearing at events throughout the summer, when he'll be handing out stickers and greeting children.

He helped create a party atmosphere at the Borders opening, which also featured a stilt-walking court jester, a jazz trio and a face painter entertaining the hundreds of people who flocked to the store.

Evening Advertiser newspaper sales manager Margaret Marsh said: "Alfie will be appearing at events such as fetes and carnivals all summer.

"He loves children so when you see him, come and say hello and give him a cuddle.

"It was great for him to make his debut at the opening of Borders because it's so important for children to start reading books and newspapers from an early age."

Visitors to Borders are encouraged to relax with a book and sink into one of the many leather armchairs placed around the store.

There is a Starbucks coffee shop upstairs and a dedicated children's area with plans for storytelling sessions in the future.

Jane Wheatley, the headteacher of St Andrew's Primary School, said: "We were invited to open the store. It's an honour for the children and great to be involved in a community event.

"The children's section is excellent. Children need to start reading at a young age and I'm impressed that there is a good selection of books aimed at boys because a lot of children's literature is aimed at girls."