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Pride for Penny Readings

Written by Francesca Dolan, 15th December 2021

Penny Readings returned to the Mansion House for 2021 marking the first time we've had both an online and in-person audience. If you missed out on the event, you can watch here.

Now in it's 15th year, The Reader's Penny Readings has become a not-to-be-missed experience.

Alongside Jane Davis, our founder and director, Clare Ellis (Head of Teaching and Learning) and Greg Harwood-Jenkins (Young Persons Mentor) hosted this year’s event and with much to live up to, it did not disappoint. The audience left with a renewed festive cheer, nourished by the words of great writers.

From start to finish, the performance was punctuated with warmth, connection and a mutual love of all things literature. Staff, volunteers, friends and Shared Reading group members joined together from across the globe to enjoy extracts of literature including The Winter Diary of a Country Mouse by Peter Firmin to Bluebird by Charles Bukowski.

The afternoon was filled with readings by patron and author, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Criminal Justice Projects Manager, Kate Bramhall, actor, Claire Skinner, TV presenter and People’s Postcode Lottery Ambassador, Matt Johnson.

International Shared Reading group members joined us from far and wide including Kate reading under the blue skies of New Zealand, Kathy reciting from New York and Ayako sharing her passion from beautiful Paris.

Before her reading of The Third Art by Kenji Miyazawa, which she first shared in Japanese, Ayako reflected, ‘during the lockdown, The Reader's poetry readings over Facebook Live were very healing’. There was no denying that Shared Reading has kept us connected - using literature as a tool to help unite us in times of great uncertainty.

Extracts from Robert Louis Stephenson’s From a Railway Carriage and Walt Whitman’s Sounds of the Winter were interspersed with live music from The Reader staff member, Lily Kehoe, who had the audience transfixed with renditions of Fleetwood Mac and Frank Sinatra. The afternoon also featured a selection of musical pieces by Vivaldi, Bach and Corelli performed by Marino Capulli (violin) and Lizzie Elliott (cello) from Liverpool music charity, Early Music as Education. 

The event came to an end in the classic Reader tradition, with Clare Ellis giving an animated reading of a scene from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

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