Knit and Natter raises £1,400 for The Reader – ahead of unveiling four special knitted gifts for the Mansion House

The Reader would like to say a huge thank you to the Calderstones Knit and Natter group, which has raised an incredible £1,400 for the charity.

The group often sees more than 50 people, whose ages span six decades, come along each Tuesday morning to knit, natter and share some great literature together, and occasionally embark on a community challenge.

After fundraising all last year for The Reader, which included selling handmade crafts created by members of the group, their fingers are now hard at work on four different projects commissioned for the Mansion House, re-opening later this summer.

Mary White, a volunteer Reader Leader and one of the Knit and Natter organisers, said: “Well done to everyone for working so hard to raise this money – a truly impressive amount. We are a very supportive group, everyone comes here with different levels of skill, ready to listen and help one another.

“Calderstones is such a beautiful setting and we love supporting The Reader
– a wonderful organisation that does so much good for the community.

Mary White and the Knit and Natter group presenting The Reader’s founder and director Jane Davis with a cheque for £1400

Mary read a poem to the group before presenting the cheque to The Reader’s founder Jane Davis. Edgar Albert Guest’s It Couldn’t Be Done was a fitting tribute to all of their efforts.

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.

“Thank you for being so generous with your time, efforts and donations, and for teaching me how to crochet,” Jane Davis. “Knit and Natter is a very important part of The Reader and I’ll make sure that we use this money to create something very special.

“I know you’re all itching to get back into the Mansion House
– and I promise it won’t be much longer. The whole team is excited to see what you’re creating for the public spaces inside the house.”


The Reader, the Liverpool-based charity that brings people together and books to life, is moving forward with its plans to make a difference to more lives in the region as it prepares to open the doors to the refurbished Grade II listed Mansion House in Liverpool’s Calderstones Park later this summer.

Along with the Storybarn, the Café and the Ice Cream Parlour, which are already up and running, the restored Mansion House will be part of The Reader at Calderstones, a warm and vibrant community where anyone can come to experience literature, find and share meaning, be nourished, develop new skills and explore creativity.

By creating new ways for everyone to enjoy and experience literature together as part of daily life, The Reader at Calderstones aims to offer everyone – and particularly those who need it most – meaningful opportunities to connect with someone, or something.

The Reader Mansion House will provide a range of meaningful activities and events for everyone which will be held together by a golden thread of literature. The number of weekly Shared Reading groups on site will double to 30 by the end of year, while new activities will include art for all, walks, Reader Retreats, yoga, a chance to help develop the mansion’s garden, and more.

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.