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Shared reading comes to Wiltshire

Written by Lisa Spurgin, 19th December 2013

books and tea reading circleAs a New Year approaches, we're looking forward to even more shared reading across the UK as The Reader Organisation's current work in the South West is expanding into the county of Wiltshire. Building upon our previous work in Devon, we are introducing new Library Memory Groups for people with memory loss and their carers across Wiltshire, in partnership with Wiltshire Council, starting in January 2014.

Wiltshire received its first taste of shared reading at a special seasonal session in Mere Library, the venue for one of our new Library Memory Groups, last week - which went down a treat with those who came along. Our Wiltshire Project Worker Josephine Corcoran tells us more:

We ate mince pies and read a short extract from A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas (featured in A Little, Aloud) which had members talking about their memories of snow piles that buried their front doors!  They had to shovel their way out.  The snowy landscape made others remember the milkman and his horse bringing the milk which was frozen solid in the glass bottles.  One member’s favourite line was “….and smoke, indeed, was pouring out of the dining room, and the gong was bombilating…”  We all agreed that was such a good word – it really seems to describe the sound the gong would make!  One lady had a gong although she’d never used it. Perhaps she would, she said, if her house was on fire like Mrs Prothero’s house.

Then it was on to sharing two poems: Innocents Song by Charles Causeley and Minstrels by William Wordsworth.  We talked a lot about the following lines “Why does he ferry my fireside / As a spider on a thread, / His fingers made of fuses / And his tongue of gingerbread?”  It made one man think of all the pictures you see looking into an open fire.  We talked about the way the poem started off seemingly innocent but how it soon became much darker. “How can you ferry a fireside?” one man asked. Someone said it seemed that someone was crossing in front of the fire, weaving his way like a spider.

The ‘minstrels’ in William Wordsworth’s poem reminded people of carol singers in the village of Mere.  “So stout and hardy were the band / That scraped the chords with strenuous hand.”  “Mmm, yes”, said one member, “that’s like some of the people in a folk band that I know.”  When we read the poem for a final time one man joined in cheerfully with the final lines: “Duly pronounced with lusty call, / And “Merry Christmas” wished to all.”

We have four new Library Memory Groups especially for people with memory loss and their carers starting in Wiltshire in January:

  • Mere Library, Barton Lane, Mere, Warminster, Wiltshire BA12 6JA, 2.30-4pm (starts Wednesday 8th January 2014)
  • Purton Library, High Street, Purton, Wiltshire SN5 4AA, 11.30-1pm (starts Thursday 16th January 2014)
  • Pewsey Library, Ashton Close, Pewsey, Wiltshire SN9 5EQ, 2.30-4pm (starts Thursday 16th January 2014)
  • Warminster Library, Three Horseshoes Walk, Warminster, Wiltshire BA12 9BT, 11.30am-1pm (starts Wednesday 22nd January 2014)

For full details about our Library Memory Groups and our work in the South West, see our website:

For more information about our Wiltshire projects and other shared reading happenings in the South West, follow the team on Twitter: @TheReaderSW

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