The joy of welcoming Reader Friends to The Reader at Calderstones
"If you ask me, when a house looks like that, it's time to find another one."
Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, A. A. Milne
One highlight of The Reader at Calderstones Housewarming Weekend was having the opportunity to spend time with our Friends.
We rely on the generosity of people like our Friends to continue the work that we do, enabling more people to experience the life-changing power of literature.
As a thank you, Friends were invited ahead of the crowds to see how their support has helped transform the Mansion House at Calderstones Park.
It was an evening of food and, of course, reading.
Jane Davis, founder and director of The Reader, read from A. A Milne’s Winnie the Pooh – a tale of doubt, peril, overcoming challenges and most of all, friendship.
We are grateful to all those Friends who came along to share their memories of the Mansion House and to celebrate its future with us - not least, Jenni, who came with her husband all the way from Lincolnshire.
Our Friends got a behind the scenes tour of the Mansion House, travelling back in time in the dedicated exhibition that tells the story of 5,000 years of life in Liverpool, beginning in the late Stone Age.
In the garden, they got up close to the ancient Calder Stones that give the local area its name, inside their new purpose-built home, seeing how the imaginative space weaves together the life of the Stones and the Mansion, alongside the development of storytelling and literature.
Now that the Mansion House is open, we hope to inspire more organisations and individuals to support what we're building here - a reading home with a heart and a place that offers something for everyone.
There is still lots to do before we can really call the Mansion House a home - from gardening and furnishings, to spreading the word about what’s on offer and, yes, more fundraising!
We need you to tell people about The Reader and the Reader Friends scheme. Or, if you know someone who would enjoy Shared Reading in one of our community groups, then encourage them to give it a go.
Justina, a Shared Reading group member, spoke at the supporters’ event earlier in the day about the first time she experienced Shared Reading and what The Reader means to her:
"When I arrived at Calderstones, the receptionist, who was also the group's Reader Leader, told me the group had been cancelled because no-one else had turned up. I was devastated, my distress showed on my face, which is surprising because I normally hide my feelings well.
"She asked me to wait a moment and went off, returning with some books. She asked me to follow her and we went to one of the reading rooms. We sat down, had a cup of tea, read a chapter from Jane Eyre and discussed it. We all became totally engrossed in the story.
"When I left I wasn't lonely anymore - which I see now was a massive part of my problem and unhappiness. I had been given a priceless gift - the understanding that I mattered.
"The Mansion House is so beautiful in its refurbished condition, but the ethos of The Reader is even more than that, its beauty lies in the warmth of its welcome"
Find out about the joy that comes with being a Reader Friend here.