Project Update – June 2018

This is the first in a series of posts giving a sneak peek into what’s happening inside Calderstones Mansion House as we create The International Centre for Shared Reading. You’ll find a series of pictures below showcasing some of the work already completed.

The refurbishment began on site in March 2018 with contractors John Turners starting their 46 week programme – it has continued at pace since with the roof currently off, demolition of the old toilet block completed and most of the work to restore the original, internal lay- out as well as work in the basement well underway.

Can you help?

The refurbishment of Calderstones is a massive project and we need a lot of help! Do you have skills you can share? There’s lots of ways to get involved:

The story so far…

We’ve raised £5M+ to refurbish Calderstones Mansion House and bring it back to life with a vibrant programme of regular activities and stand-out annual events. We will create new opportunities for people from diverse walks of life to come together to read, learn, relax, work, play, eat and volunteer. With a whole range of community activities, we hope you’ll find something for you.

At Calderstones you will be able to :

  • Join a Shared Reading group
  • Visit the neolithic Calder Stones
  • Explore the history of the Mansion House
  • Enjoy the new, much-larger Reader Café
  • Spend a penny in our lovely new toilets
  • Hire the Garden Theatre for your event

The Reader Cafe is on the move

We’re transforming Calderstones Mansion House to create The International Centre for Shared Reading. To allow essential works on the building to get underway, The Reader Cafe will be moving to a new, temporary home in the courtyard next to The Storybarn and The Reader Ice Cream Parlour.

The location may be changing for a while, but customers can expect the same menu, the same prices and the same warm Reader welcome. As we settle in, we’ll also be expanding the menu in the coming weeks.

The last day in our current Cafe is Monday 29 January. The cafe will then be closed from Tuesday 30 January to Friday 2 February with reopening set for Saturday 3 February.

And as a special welcome to our new, temporary home, The Reader Cafe will be offering free teas and filter coffees to the first fifty customers in our new home!

Last day: Monday 29 January
Closed: Tuesday 30 January – Friday 2 February
Reopen – Saturday 3 February

The Big Give Christmas Challenge Round Up

Seven days. Three match-funders. 292 donors. £45,881 pounds raised to train and support volunteers to bring weekly Shared Reading groups to isolated older people across the UK.


Phew – What a week! At midday on Tuesday we wrapped up The Big Give Christmas Challenge after a huge seven-day campaign to raise funds for our work with socially isolated older people.

We were blown away by the generosity of our supporters right across the country, from Cornwall up to Aberdeenshire, and from Norfolk all the way across to Tyrone, 292 individuals gave a total of £21,369 in just seven days.

And thanks to the support of CHK Charities Ltd, Booker Prize winning translator Deborah Smith and an anonymous match-funder we had an incredible opportunity to double the impact of individual donations made during the week-long campaign, which when combined with gift aid raised a total of £45,881 to train and support volunteer Reader Leaders who will read with older people in care homes and community settings across the UK.

To everyone who donated, baked, knitted, raised money through book sales, tweeted, talked to radio DJs, friends, family, neighbours and strangers to spread the news – we’d like to say a huge Reader thank you!

We launched the Christmas Challenge on Tuesday 28 November with our wonderful Knit and Natter group at our headquarters in Calderstones Park, with an incredible donation of £1106 raised through the sale of their homemade wares at The Reader Gallery. We also welcomed Rhod Davies from the Charity Aid Foundation to a Shared Reading group to celebrate Giving Tuesday.

We were thrilled by the wonderful feature on Deborah Smith’s support for the campaign on The Bookseller, who said:

“Ever since I won the prize I’ve been agonising over what to do with the money, and when I heard about the work The Reader does I thought ‘I want that to happen in Doncaster’.

Literature has opened so many doors for me and growing up I felt like my real education came from reading books from my local library, so it’s really important to me to be able to give something back.

Reading has so many amazing benefits for mental and physical health, which is why the idea that you have to have money or a particular education to access it is so damaging and dangerous. Books should be for everybody – my life would have been completely different without them.”

Read the article in full.

Across the week our friends at Cheshire Farm’s Ice Cream Farm raised money to donate to The Big Give Christmas Challenge and at Reader HQ we held a week of exciting events, with the Giving Tuesday Book Giveaway, after-dark heritage tours with The Calder Stones by Candlelight, a Literary Bake Off and festive fun at The Reader’s Christmas Courtyard Fair.