Great day at Oxfordshire Read-a-thon

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I spent my Saturday at the Oxfordshire Read-a-thon. Teacher Anne Wattam heard about the Read-a-Thon in Trafalgar Square and decided that children in Oxfordshire needed their own version. She approached local authors David Melling, John Foster and Charlie Sutcliffe. Having heard me speak at the Oxford NUT Reading for Pleasure conference, Anne asked if I would come along and do a couple of performances. I make it a point to donate one or two events a month free of charge and thought this was a worthy cause. Anne and her team based in Milton village spent three months putting the event together with support from local businesses and local people. There was a real sense of a community pulling together to promote reading.

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Anne and I did an interview at 8am to promote the event. As we left the BBC Oxford studio there was a fine drizzle. Would we be rained off? Would anyone turn up? We needn’t have worried. At 11am local MP Ed Vaizey- yes, he of ‘I see no library closures’ fame- opened the event and scores then hundreds of people poured in, children, mums, dads, grans, granddads, uncles and aunties. Story book characters in costume formed a guard of honour.
Among the activities were:
• Meet favourite children’s authors, Alan Gibbons, David Melling, John Foster and Charlie Sutcliffe
• Presentations to children and adults from authors
• Code X Micro Worlds in the secret garden
• Professional Story Telling in different settings
• Poets Corner
• Book signings
• Book Swap – bring 1, take home 2(adults and children)
• Mad Hatter’s Tea Party
• Famous Story Characters including, Winnie the Witch, The Big Bad Wolf, Knight on horse , Snow White, Peter Pan,and many more.
• Pony Rides,
• House Tours – tea and cakes in the famous Tea Rooms
• Fireman Sam’s Engine!
• Children’s performances
• Never Never Land/Indian encampment
• Cross Mermaids Lagoon in a boat
• Activity Marquee
• Woodland Walk
• Come dressed as a favourite story character
It was an inspirational event and could be a model for many such events around the country.

(I am pictured below with poet John Foster and ‘Hugless Dugless’ creator David Melling)

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