Whether working at our headquarters in Liverpool, or in communities across the UK, our people believe in the value of great literature.
Name: Jane Davis, Founder and Director
Bio: Jane launched The Reader as a magazine in 1997, developing Shared Reading around the same time, with the aim of opening up great literature to people who need it.
A book/poem/play I’d like to share: Depends who you are but almost everyone might enjoy The Mouse and His Child by Russell Hoban . Failing that – read Pastoralia by George Saunders or Adam Bede by George Eliot
Why I work at The Reader: Fewer than 1% of the population study English Literature at University…what a waste of ‘the good stuff’! I founded The Reader because I wanted to make it possible for all kinds of people to enjoy the experiences that great writers had provided for me.
Name: Ailsa Horne, Chief Operating Officer
Bio: Since joining The Reader in 2015, Ailsa has worked across various different departments, as COO she is now responsible for the effective running of the organisation. Previously she worked in local economic development as well as the charity and public sectors.
A book/poem/play I’d like to share: To be of use by Marge Piercy; a poem about the patience, commitment and collaboration that is essential to move things forwards.
Why I work at The Reader: the inspiring work and the kind, genuine people.
Name: Jemma Guerrier, Director of Development and Communications
Bio: Jemma moved from London to join The Reader in 2016 after 12 years in the voluntary sector. She’s responsible for leading the teams who secure the income required to sustain and grow the Reading Revolution, inspire new partnerships and spread the word about our work and its impact.
A book/poem/play I’d like to share: My favourite book is Little Women which remains as poignant to me now as it did when I was a teenager. It’s timeless and the themes are universal, from friendships to family, gender to bereavement.
Why I work at The Reader: The ambition – we are ambitious for Shared Reading because we know it changes lives and is so accessible. We’ve accomplished a lot but there is so much more to do. The impact and future potential drives me here, as does a hefty challenge and the constant reminder that I have so much literature to explore!
Name: Anton Clarke, Director of Social Enterprise
Bio: Launching and leading social enterprises at The Reader at Calderstones, including a new events business, plus IT and site facilities.
A book/poem/play I’d like to share: Candide by Voltaire
Why I work at The Reader: Life is about finding purpose. Having worked many jobs in many sectors, I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to work at The Reader back in 2014. Since then, I’ve found that the work that we do as an organisation – both locally and further afield – has given me the purpose and motivation to be my best self.
Name: Zoe Gilling, Director of People and Shared Reading Programmes
Bio: Zoe came to The Reader after a 15 year career in HE. She is responsible for making sure our staff and volunteers are well supported and that our UK wide Shared Reading provision is run well and available to those who need it most.
A book/poem/play I’d like to share: If you haven’t read it yet, read Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. Unputdownable once you start reading, something for everyone to identify with: love, family, marriage, betrayal, tragedy, hypocrisy to name but a few!
Why I work at The Reader: My role at The Reader continually challenges me, provides me with meaningful connections with lots of different types of people, and a chance to read with others on a regular basis.
Name: Ginny Hopton, Director of Finance
Bio: Ginny joined The Reader in 2019, having previously held a range of senior financial and operational roles. Ginny is responsible for strategic financial management and leadership, supporting The Reader to plan for growth and fulfil its ambition whilst ensuring the accounting fundamentals are delivered.
A book/poem/play I’d like to share: Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas – a lyrically written “play for voices”, Under Milk Wood is a deeply moving, often comic examination of Welsh life.
Why I work at The Reader: I can use my skills to make a difference, I am continually inspired and challenged, I can be my own person, and I work with wonderful people.
The Reader is a charitable social enterprise with a board of trustees who oversee operations, and work in the interests of the charity and our beneficiaries. In 2014, The Reader created the Calderstones CIC to manage the business interests of the social enterprises at The Reader at Calderstones.
This board is comprised of individuals from academia, health, policy, community, business and the arts organisations, drawn from across the UK. It meets four times a year.
Name: Anita Marsland, Chair of the Board of Trustees at The Reader
Reader Story: Anita is the former Chief Executive of NHS Knowsley and Chief Officer at Knowsley Council, a joint appointment between the Council and PCT. She was seconded to the Department of Health in 2010 to lead the Public Health Transition Team overseeing the transfer of the local Public Health function from the NHS into Local Government and the establishment of Public Health England. This followed a long and distinguished career in Social Work in the North West of England. Anita is retained by Public Health England as an adviser on Local Government matters, she is a Non Executive Director at Alder Hey Childrens NHS Foundation Trust and Independent Chair of Sefton Health and Care Transformation Board. Anita was awarded an MBE in 2008 for services to Health and Social Care and more recently an Honorary Membership of the Faculty of Public Heath in 2017. She is a Director of Unique Health Solutions (Health and Care management consultancy).
A book/poem/play I would like to share: The Invisible Woman, Claire Tomalin. The story of Dickens relationship with Nelly Ternan – a fascinating and illuminating social history. Another suggestion would be The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah Poet Lyricist Writer Activist.
Why are you involved with The Reader? I was introduced to the work of The Reader some years ago and was immediately inspired by both the ethos and ambition of the organisation. I promised myself that following retirement from full time work I would offer my services as a volunteer… and here I am. It is such a privilege to be Chair of The Board of Trustees at this amazing organisation.
Name: Hugh Biddell
Reader Story: As head of charities and not-for-profit at RBS, Hugh supports organisations to collaborate across the public sector. He was previously a trustee for homelessness charity Crisis.
A book/poem/play I’d like to share: Exile’s Letter by Ezra Pound from Cathay, For the Most Part and the Chinese of Rihaku. It’s a warm toned reflection on a long friendship. From the measured formal opening address to his friend be swept along by its wonderful headlong rush through the writer’s memories of their youth – light, colour, conviviality and separation. “There is no end of things in the heart.”
Why are you involved with The Reader: In my work I have an insight into many fantastic charities. I wanted to give time to one where I also felt personally passionate and enthused. I have no doubt of the impact The Reader’s method of Shared Reading and I know that reading great literature continues to enrich my life.
Name: Pranav Sood
Reader story: Pranav is VP International Expansion at UK-based FinTech GoCardless. Pranav started his career at Bain & Company, where he led Bain’s Social Business Incubator. He is governor of a primary school in Islington.
A book/poem/play I’d like to share: The Odyssey by Homer. The original adventure story and still the best.
Why are you involved with The Reader: I’m a passionate believer in the impact that great literature can have on people’s lives.
Name: Phil Davies
Reader story: Phil Davies was the Labour Leader of Wirral Council from 2012 to 2019, having represented Birkenhead and Tranmere Ward since 1991. He’s a non-executive director at The Engineering College in Birkenhead and a trustee of Wirral Food Bank.
A book/poem/play I’d like to share: Middlemarch by George Eliot. A powerful Victorian novel with a complex web of characters who display the best and worst of human nature.
Why are you involved with The Reader: I really like the idea of using great literature to improve the lives of everyone, particularly people who are vulnerable and disadvantaged.
Name: Dr Ruth Hussey CB OBE
Reader story: Ruth retired from her role as Chief Medical Officer for Wales in 2016, after starting out as a GP, becoming Director of Public Health in Liverpool, then working in Public Health in north West England and the Department of Health. Her current portfolio focuses on food, as a board member of the Food Standards Agency, as well as health inequalities and health policy through various Board and advisory roles.
A book/poem/play I’d like to share: The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono. It is an allegorical story about a shepherd’s long and successful effort to re-forest a desolate valley.
Why are you involved with The Reader: The Reader’s work is a fantastic way of using literature to change lives for the better and I am delighted to support its efforts to improve health and wellbeing across the UK and beyond.
Name: Sarah Fletcher, Chief Operating Officer and Director of Finance
Reader Story: Sarah is Director of Finance & Operations at Alder Hey Children’s Charity. She is responsible for developing and delivering the financial strategy of the Charity, working with Alder Hey Children’s Hospital to enable the Charity to provide vital funds for the work with the hospital’s brave young patients. Sarah started her career with PwC in August 2000 where she trained to be a chartered accountant. Following this, she moved to another top ten accountancy firm RSM where she worked as a manager overseeing a team delivering internal audit, technology and risk assurance services. Sarah joined The Reader in January 2016 as Chief Operating Officer and Director of Finance. She was responsible for implementing and strengthening the organisational processes that would allow Shared Reading to grow and fulfil its ambition across the UK. In her role, Sarah developed and delivered The Reader’s financial strategy. Following her move to Alder Hey Children’s Charity, Sarah continued in her role as Director on the Board for Calderstones Mansion House Community Interest Company and joined the The Reader Board as a Trustee.
A book/poem/play I’d like to share: Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces that stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull
Why are you involved with The Reader: To make a difference.
Name: Rosemary Hawley
Reader Story: I first heard about The Reader when I re-met Jane and she told me about what she had been pioneering from within the University of Liverpool, and her intention to move the work from there and create a new charity. I was involved in the NHS and passionate about health and wholeness. I became the chair of this organisation and had the most exciting and rewarding time playing a small part in this new venture as it grew – and grew – nationally and internationally, with its headquarters moving from Abercromby Square to Everton to Calderstones. When on retirement we left Liverpool I was asked to stay on as a trustee, I was honoured. So I have seen the Reader develop and flourish which has been an enormous privilege.
Poem to share: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. This is a fabulous vivid telling in verse of a story with a dream like quality – an allegory really – of a sea journey involving a destructive act, the killing of the bird, the ensuing hell like suffering, and then redemption from blessing the water-snakes as other living parts of creation, that is rescuing a bad situation through love. The Mariner must then tell the story, as The Reader shares so many stories.
Why are you involved? Because I love what it does and the values and ideals underpinning it and what it brings to so many of wider experiences, possibilities, emotions and relationships.
Calderstones CIC’s Board of Directors
The Calderstones CIC oversees any non-primary purpose activity – including The Reader Ice Cream Parlour and The Reader Café. These, and future social enterprises, help to build a community in the park, create jobs and support The Reader’s primary purpose activity, as all profits are gifted back to the charity.
The board meets four times a year and is made up of Anita Marsland (Chair), Pranav Sood, Phil Davies, Jane Davies and Sarah Fletcher.
The Reader began life as a magazine and has since become the inspiration for a global movement.
Our values reflect and shape our behaviour, and guide our volunteers, staff, trustees and supporters as we work together to...
Shared Reading changes lives by improving wellbeing, reducing social isolation and building stronger communities.