Plus Ça Change…

Read for Good charity logo

I finally let go of the balloon

Last month, I announced a major change. I planned to abandon my day job at Read for Good, the Nailsworth-based national charity, to devote my time to writing.

“I can’t believe you’re leaving Read for Good!” said some of my friends, knowing what great work it does, encouraging children to read for pleasure (Readathon) and making life better for children in hospital by providing them with free books and storytellers (ReadWell).

“I can’t believe you’re giving up a part-time, term- time job – every working mother’s dream!” said others.

It hadn’t been an easy decision. We’d always planned I’d give up the day job once my husband started getting his Civil Service pension, which happened in March. We’d reckoned without the objections of my 10-year-old daughter: “But it’s COOL having a mummy who works for Read for Good!”

…Plus C’est La Même Chose

Sir Tony Robinson with a ReadWell bookcaes

Read for Good’s better known ambassador, its new patron Sir Tony Robinson (Photo: Clint Randall)

No-one was surprised when, in the run-up to my last day at the office, I hedged my bets by cheekily appointing myself a Read for Good ambassador.

That’s how it came about that during my first full week of supposedly writing full-time, I enjoyed not one but two excursions on behalf of the charity.

On Wednesday 9th October, I was invited to join two other local writers, Katie Fforde and Simon Sheridan, on BBC Radio Gloucestershire’s excellent Chris Baxter Show. The DJ engaged us in wide-ranging discussion of children’s literacy and publishing trends, giving me the chance to explain the work of both Readathon and ReadWell to a county-wide audience.

The live broadcast took place not at the BBC’s studio, but in a temporary setting to which they’d decamped for the Cheltenham Literature Festival. It was hard to stop myself phoning someone on my mobile to announce with fake nonchalance “Hello, I’m in The Writers’ Room at Cheltenham Literature Festival…”

To stop myself getting ideas above my station, I lunched afterwards at McDonald’s in Stroud. It seemed a good way to bring myself back down to earth.

Debbie Young in conversation with Sarah McIntyre, Philip Reeve and Nick Sharratt

Demonstrating my ambassadorial powers while  wishing I too had worn a hat (Photo: Clint Randall)

Two days later, on Friday 11th, I was back at the Festival, this time in the Queen’s Hotel for Read for Good’s fundraising reception. My role was to chat up the guests, which included award-winning children’s authors and illustrators such as Nick Sharratt, Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre. Read for Good’s new patron, the actor and author Sir Tony Robinson, inspired us all with a passionate speech about the power of books for young people. He cited his own experience of bunking off school as a teenager, in order to spend more time in the library!

I did still manage to get some writing done last month, but I’m enjoying this ambassador malarkey. And that’s before I’ve even started on the Ferrero Rocher…

Platter of Ferrero Rocher chocolates

Clearly I need more ambassadorial experience before I’m able to pile Ferrero Rocher into a pyramid, as in the ads

By the way, I’ve discovered it is IMPOSSIBLE to stack Ferrero Rocher into a pyramid as they do in the television advert (strapline: “Ah, Ambassador, with these Ferrero Rocher you are truly spoiling us). I think they must use blu-tak.

(This post was originally written for my Tetbury Advertiser column, November 2013.)

  • To find out more about the BBC Radio Gloucestershire broadcast and to hear a recording of it, click here for my previous post about it.
  • To get involved in the great work that Read for Good does encouraging children to read, visit www.readforgood.org.
  • For further research into Ferrero Rocher, go to your nearest sweetshop. Go on, you know you want to. 
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