A little oasis

If you’ve ever been to Barrow-in-Furness then you’ll know that it’s one of those places out on a limb in several ways. For a start it’s situated on a peninsula jutting out into the Irish Sea. Secondly it’s near the glorious Lake District but could not be more different from the wild fells and sweeping valleys that can be seen in the distance from the town.

Thirdly, Barrow is an industrial place. Or was. Once a mighty centre of steel-making and ship-building it has seen a decline in these traditional jobs, although it is now growing as a hub for offshore wind farms and green energy generation. 

I visited a school in Barrow this week and came across an amazing oasis in the form of Sacred Heart Primary library run by the wonder that is librarian Tracey Needham. 

I have simply never come across a place where love and enthusiasm for children’s books is so evident. The library is small but it’s overflowing with good books, displays, recommendations, ideas, reasons to read, comfy corners, organisational helps and a sense of joy. 

Tracey’s dedication and passion for getting children reading in this school are so impressive. As I walked around the place there were mini-displays about my books everywhere, plus quizzes, a countdown to the visit, copies to pick up, covers, lovely reviews, pictures and so many things to get the children excited about having an author in. When I arrived it was a total pleasure to work in such an environment. 

The children reflected both Tracey’s and the staff’s enthusiasm (it is, of course, a whole-school thing) and my day was one of the best I’ve ever had in a school, especially in an area which is in many ways deprived. Tracey was madly Tweeting and sharing photos even as I was talking! 

I particularly like these photos of Y5 and Y6 children listening to my infamous prank story: 

So thank you Tracey and the staff and children at Sacred Heart for a really wonderful, uplifting day. There is hope – there is an oasis if you keep looking.


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