Gosport community rallies to build new library for Elson Infant School

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THE Gosport community have rallied round to help Elson Infant School build a new library.

Local tradesmen, businesses and community groups have turned teacher Charlotte Watkin’s vision into reality after donating money, materials and free labour.

(l-r) Erin McConville, 6, Graham Jenkins, 6, Harshi Brendra, 6, and Matilda Tendler, 6, enjoy reading in the library boat.''Picture: Sarah Standing

(l-r) Erin McConville, 6, Graham Jenkins, 6, Harshi Brendra, 6, and Matilda Tendler, 6, enjoy reading in the library boat.''Picture: Sarah Standing

Charlotte said: ‘This wouldn’t have been possible without the local community. The project ended up costing less than £5,000 rather than the full cost of £20,000. Parents who are joiners and electricians came in during the summer to construct the library while local businesses such as Carpet Fayre and Dulux Paint and Decorator Centre, donated materials.’

Money was also raised by Waitrose in Gosport and Jolana’s Body Shop.

The nautical themed new library, which includes a boat, beach hut and cubby hole, was met with universal approval by pupils. The colour scheme and library furniture were all ideas devised by the children.

Izzy Martin, six, said: ‘The library is really good. I like to read in the boat as you can lie-down on the soft cushions – it’s much more relaxing than a classroom.’

Author, Mark Robertson, at the school's new library.

Author, Mark Robertson, at the school's new library.

Classmate, Daisy Cole, seven, added: ‘Our old reading area was falling down and so it’s really exciting to have a new library. I like to read in the beach hut.’

The library was opened by children’s author and illustrator, Mark Robertson, who brought along his ‘pet dragon’ who features in many of his books. Pupils also took part in a dragon illustration workshop.

Mark said: ‘I had a fantastic day – the new library looks incredible. The dragon eggs were particularly popular with the children. It was brilliant to come into school and help inspire children to get into reading.’

Daisy added: ‘It was really exciting when the author came in. I really enjoyed his book, How to Grow Monster Vegetables.’

Ava-Mae Cumming (left), 6 and Izzy Martin,6, take time out to read their new books in the school's new library.''Picture: Sarah Standing (151019-9084)

Ava-Mae Cumming (left), 6 and Izzy Martin,6, take time out to read their new books in the school's new library.''Picture: Sarah Standing (151019-9084)

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 Charlotte, who is the reading lead, said the library is the culmination of a two-year project to ‘develop readers for life’.

‘There are so many distractions for children today and the library provides a relaxing environment for them to enjoy reading. We have set aside two afternoons each week for parents to come in and read with their children,’ she said.

Executive headteacher, Debby Marshall, believes developing literacy is the fundamental cornerstone to a child’s education.

Debby Marshall, executive headteacher, and Charlotte Watkin, class teacher and reading leader.''Picture: Sarah Standing (151019-9119)

Debby Marshall, executive headteacher, and Charlotte Watkin, class teacher and reading leader.''Picture: Sarah Standing (151019-9119)

‘Literacy underpins everything – without out it, children can’t access the rest of the curriculum,’ she said.

Daisy added: ‘If you can’t read then you can’t do your other subjects.’