Whatever It Takes…Leicester to Libraries!

It’s been another busy week, with a visit to Beachborough School in Brackley on Tuesday (hello, Anna! Hello, brilliant kids!) followed by a drive up to Leicester for a day with the organisation Whatever It Takes (WiT), part of the Schools’ Development Support Agency. Cerrie Burnell (latterly of CBeebies) and David Harmer and I all travelled up the night before in order to sign a LOT of books – WiT has funds to buy a book for EVERY SINGLE CHILD attending – and that’s around 600 per day! How absolutely wonderful is that?!

I start signing mine…
Cerrie starts signing hers…
Two and a half hours later, at 11pm, Cerrie signs her final book (she had twice as many as I had to sign because she was seeing more primary pupils than I was seeing secondary) and David had already done his, the teacher’s pet!
We were all very relieved to get to the end! Here we are flaking out on the huge pile of book boxes!

I thoroughly enjoyed my day of events with four secondary schools: Soar Hill, Judgemeadow, Beaumont Leys and Crown Hills. They all laughed at my jokes and didn’t seem to mind my dramatic face-pulling…

I wore my new strawberry-themed frock for the event, which I liked so much I wore it again on Friday (fear not, I washed it in between!) to the amazing annual event that is the Pupil Library Assistant of the Year Award, hosted by the House of Commons! Organised by a group of wonderful people at CILIP SLG and SLA, many of them librarians themselves, it celebrates the achievements of young people in secondary schools who volunteer in their school libraries. As an attending author (there were over twenty of us!), I was lucky enough to be allocated to one of the eight Finalists, Maia Hipwood, to sit with her and read out a citation provided by her school (Howard of Effingham). I was thrilled not only to meet Maia (currently in Y11) but also to meet her librarian Cathi Woods, with whom I had briefly corresponded. Maia’s citation was superb and I felt really honoured to be among so many young people who were passionate about books.

Me and Maia

Tanya Landman gave a witty and wonderful speech (I will never forget the story of Kevin and Susan) and then to my sheer delight, Maia was declared the winner! She and Cathi were both over the moon.

Maia’s beautiful trophy – and she also won ¬£500 for her school library project

After the event, we all trooped out to Downing Street, where the Finalists delivered letters they had composed about the importance of school libraries and why it’s vital that they must be protected.

It was a truly inspirational and heartwarming day and I was honoured to be a part of it. Many thanks to all the organisers involved.

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