Last Thursday saw the start of this year’s Guildford Book Festival with many of Britain’s finest authors and celebrities making an apperance at venues across Guildford over the next ten days.

This year’s line up is no exception with a diverse range of authors giving talks on subject matters as diverse as gardening, cooking to poisioning, Georgian prostitution and the Goons!  Guest authors include Novelists, Peter James, Barabara Erskine, Andrew Taylor and Katie Fforde; Historians Michael Wood and Dan Cruikshank, actors Steven Berkoff, Ron Moody and Maureen Lipman on their Autobiographies; Grand Designs Presenter Kevin McCloud; Celebrity / Comedy anecdotes from Jenny Eclair, Arthur Smith and Arabella Weir, as well as a whole host of other authors, poets, biographers, historians and writers. 

The Pelican Post is proud to be supporting the event this year and hopefully looks forward to further developing the partnership next year and possibly organising  supporting Pelican Post ‘author’ events in local schools in the area.

For more information about the festival and to book tickets, please visit www.guildfordbookfestival.co.uk


Not one to rest on our laurels, the Pelican Post team have recently been out and about promoting the scheme through “book drives” held at a number of Waterstones branches in the south of England.

Speaking about the events, Nick Johnson, Founder of the Pelican Post commented: “We were getting regular requests from a number of the participating schools about visitors going out with plenty of luggage space to take books.  We clearly didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity to furnish them with further copies of books from the Pelican Post reading list, and spoke to a number of Waterstones branches to see if they would be interested in trialing a “Books For Africa” event.”

So far the team has held events in branches at Amersham, Farnham and Guildford, and each time the public reaction has just been quite unexpected and brilliant.

David Sommer, Co-Founder of the Pelican Post said “I never cease to be amazed at the generosity of people I meet through this scheme.  The difference they make is not just material – they’re improving children’s education, and their chances in life, aand they’re making an emotional connection too.  Everyone donating a book has the chance to include a message with it, and we email people to let them know when the book has arrived and what school received it.” 

At Waterstones Amersham – Robin, Branch Manager said:  “The Pelican Post event was one of the most successful events that we have hosted at Waterstone’s Amersham…It went very smoothly and appealed to the vast majority of our customers on the day…Customers seemed genuinely interested and were clearly happy to support such a direct and more meaningful method of giving.  We sold nearly 80 books!”

At Farnham branch, despite it being a terrible day of weather and the same weekend that the devastating floods in Pakistan dominated the news (resulting in an army of volunteers out in full force collecting right outside Waterstones), the store still received a receptive response from the general public with 64 books sold.

Erika Ling, Store Manager at Waterstone’s on Guildford High Street was equally optimistic about the events success where 137 books were sold (although 26 were for personal readers who will hopefully post the books on when finished reading!)   Erika commented “We were utterly blown away by the generosity and enthusiasm of our customers on Saturday.”   

Jessica Sage, Events Co-ordinator for Waterstone’s Guildford said; “Pelican Post’s work is absolutely fantastic and we we’re very proud to have hosted this event.”

The event at Guildford also included activities for the kids all day.  Children were invited to make bookmarks to send on with the books providing a further personal gift to send to a child their own age. living a very different life.

Many of the books sold at the events have already found new homes at schools in Malawi, Uganda and Ghana, and a new batch are about to take flight for destinations also in Uganda but also Ethiopia and Kenya.

Given the early success we have had with these events we would love to continue raising awareness about the scheme through bookstores and are always keen to accept any invitation from any bookshop willing to take us!


Lenny Henry, one of Britain’s best loved and most versatile performers recently took time out to offer a few words of support to the Pelican Post campaign. 

Lenny who is also an important creative force behind the charity Comic Relief, which raises money to fund education, immunization and community projects throughout the world but particularly in Africa, is a strong advocate for change and passionate too about improving children’s access to an education.

Indeed its amazing to think that Comic Relief’s ‘Red Nose’ Day which Lenny helped establish from a refugee camp in Sudan back in 1985 is the UK’s biggest single charitable event.  Comic Relief has since gone on to raise over £450million for important causes.  In 2010, its sister event ‘Sport Relief’ also managed to raise a staggering £40million! 

Whilst the Pelican Post is not about financial donations per se but about books, its inspiring to look to success stories such as Comic Relief and at what can be achieved in playing the numbers game when you aim high.  

Education and Literacy have long been identified as the key factors in making poverty history.   Through the power of the internet, schemes like this could potentially inspire a million+ people to post a book and really impact on the future of many children’s hopes, dreams and aspirations.

Returning from a recent trip to South Africa, this is what Lenny had to say in support of the scheme…

…”This idea is quite simply brilliant!  The Pelican Post is not just about posting a single book but about leaving a legacy that will inspire countless generations of children to learn to read.  Please support this scheme and post a book today.”


Youngsters at Chestnut Lane Infant School in Amersham were visited by Parent David Sommer who helped set up Pelican Post to hear about the ‘Pelican Post Pledge’ and how the children can help inspire their peers in Africa to discover the joy of reading.

 

The children read together one of the books on the reading list – “Handa’s Surprise” by Eileen Browne before making a  truly ‘dazzling’ c0llection of   colourful bookmarks to go with the twenty copies of the story pledged.

The books were destined for delivery to Hibret Elementary School in Gondar, Ethiopia  which is supported by the Charity Link Ethiopia.

Four weeks later, we received notice of their arrival and some great pictures of the children enjoying reading the books, (with their new bookmarks!) courtesy of project co-ordinator – Muluget Derso;

Link Ethiopia is a great and inspiring Charity dedicated to supporting education in Ethiopia and increasing cultural awareness between young people in Ethiopia and the UK.   To find out more about some of the amazing projects they are currently involved in (including their donkey libraries!) please visit Link Ethiopia (www.linkethiopia.org )


I recently received an inspiring story from our partners in Uganda; Ka Tutandike (www. katutandike. org) regarding three of the schools in Kampala which Pelican Post is currently supporting. 

Working with the teachers, Ka Tutandike recently introduced a new reading competition across the schools called the 20:20 challenge.  Children receive an adhesive star against their name once they have borrowed, read and summarised a book.  

 It seems to have been a hit as feedback from Project Manager Esther Wamweta shares below…

“I have just come back from Ttula  Primary School and the children are very excited to be getting a star at the end of reading and summarizing a book.

I was shocked in a happy way to find a child who has already read 20 books and has 20 stars! We called Joel over and asked him to narrate these stories, and he indeed knew the authors and all the stories!

One of the teachers told me that the whole school has gone wild with children reading.

Joel for instance was yesterday found alone by the church reading. The book shelf has lots of space because most of the books are out and everyone is struggling to find more books to read.  The activity is open to the whole school which I think is very exciting because children from all classes are competing to be the winners.

 As for Kasubi Primary School, one of the teachers there – Olive was telling me the children are bargaining with her and pleading so they can get the books outside library time! Out of all the activities we have had with the children I think this one is the winner!”

The scheme is a great idea not least because of the confidence that is built across the school through all the children taking part. 

It also enables the teachers to monitor literacy levels by tracking  the way the children progress through reading from one level to the next.

What Esther doesn’t mention is that until  recently – two of the schools didn’t even have any book shelves, and books are still in incredibly short supply to fuel this new found passion by the children for reading.   Thanks to a little help from supporters of Pelican Post however, (as the pictures show) those book shelves are beginning to fill up!  

For more information about the “Reading for Pleasure” programmes that Ka Tutandike are introducing in schools in Kampala, or more about some of the other projects they are currently implementing, please visit www.katutandike.org.  


The Pelican Post is delighted to recieve an endorsement from the TV face of the book world – Mariella Frostrup!  

Mariella Frostrup, Journalist, Radio/TV presenter, art critic and past member of the judging panel for the Booker Prize is often associated with the literary world and currently presents Sky’s ‘The Book Show’ – the only weekly programme on UK Television dedicated to the world of literature.

However she is also equally at home and very successful too we may add, in utilising her fine-tuned, hard hitting, no nonsense journalistic skills to writing impassioned articles, and raise awareness about the work of numerous charities, organisations and people in the UK national press.

Many people might not know that Mariella was part of the Public Relations power house that marshalled the campaign for the original ‘Live Aid’ concert in 1985.  Most recently in April 2010, Mariella wrote passionately about ‘the women that changed my life’ in the Times after  meeting the Rural Women’s Forum of Manica Province in poverty stricken Mozambique.  (For the full article, visit http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/article7095281.ece)

Speaking about the Pelican Post, Mariella kindly had this to say…

It’s very easy in this country, where books are both readily available and affordable to forget what a luxury they are in other parts of the globe. To a child at school in Africa the book you might casually throw away is a piece of valued treasure and a portal to further knowledge. The Pelican Post is a brilliant initiative and offers a near effortless way for each of us to make a tangible contribution to bettering a child’s life”.


Swap A Book, Gain A Memory, Change a Life..!

Thanks to everyone who came along to the inaugural Big Book Swap back in January and thanks too to the Royal College of Physicians in Regents Park for hosting such a perfect venue for literary banter, and for Kim Dunsmore and Kim Thormond for organising such a wonderful event.

Thanks especially to our guest speakers, Ian McMillan, and Authors and Pelican Post supporters Bernard Ashley and Elizabeth Laird for entertaining us with such wit and enthusiasm, and imparting a little bit about which books and stories have inspired them over the years.

“It was great to be at an event that centred on the power of books to change the world; somehow, in that room, that evening, I felt that we were on the verge of something really exciting and positive!”
-Ian McMillan

 

Authors Bernard Ashley and Elizabeth Llaird impart some choice words on stories from Africa and what inspires them to write children’s stories.

We were hugely grateful to everyone who donated funds and bought raffle tickets and we are delighted to announce that we raised over £550 for the Pelican Post which will assist in buying much-needed books for a number of schools across Africa. Thanks for giving so generously and congratulations to all of our raffle prize winners.


Thanks to the generosity and time of individuals to post a book, children in schools in Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda,  are all experiencing firsthand the joy of discovering a great new story to read…


The Pelican Post is delighted to receive the support from Journalist, Broadcaster and TV Presenter – John Humphry’s.

As well as currently presenting the BBC’s Mastermind, John is also the Founder of the “Kitchen Table Charities Trust”; a charity specifically dedicated to supporting small charitable organisations who simply do not have the resources given their size to operate large fundraising campaigns.

Following John’s experiences of working in third world countries, mostly in Africa, and observing the dedication, commitment and most significantly the impact that many of these small local charities achieve, John established the Kitchen Table Charities Trust with the primary aim of providing a channel of funding that serves to directly support these small charities.

As he quotes on the charity’s website; “We are not interested in charity as a big business.  We believe that charity is about individuals helping other individuals with the minimum of bureaucracy and needless expense.  That is why we exist.”

Indeed, the Pelican Post was established on similar principles – i.e. to enable individuals to make a direct and personal contribution to a child’s education by posting a book, and we are thrilled to receive such an endorsement from one of the UK’s most known and acknowledged TV Broadcasters.

For more information about The Kitchen Table Charities Trust and to learn more about some the amazing projects and organisations they have supported, please visit www.kitchentablecharities.org.