Games and fancy dress as Harry Potter fans mark 20th anniversary

(L-r) 'Hermione Granger' Phoebie Hull, nine, from Gosport, 'Harry Potter' Noah Rawlins-Matus, six, from Locks Heath and 'Albus Dumbledore' Paul Wright, 36, from Swanmore with 'Fawkes' the Phoenix   Picture: Malcolm Wells (170626-1998)
(L-r) 'Hermione Granger' Phoebie Hull, nine, from Gosport, 'Harry Potter' Noah Rawlins-Matus, six, from Locks Heath and 'Albus Dumbledore' Paul Wright, 36, from Swanmore with 'Fawkes' the Phoenix Picture: Malcolm Wells (170626-1998)
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IT’S a series of books that has changed the world of literature and been praised for rejuvenating children’s interest in reading.

Yesterday, young people gathered to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter – a series which spanned seven books and a sequel screenplay.

In Fareham Shopping Centre, people packed into the Waterstones store for an evening of games and fancy dress.

Staff at the store split the visitors into the separate school houses from the novels; Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw.

Following this, the houses competed in a series of challenges, such as casting spells at trolls, taking part in an owl relay and playing chess.

The youngsters from the Gryffindor house were eventually crowned the winners of the evening, scoring a total of 255 points.

One of the people who came to help out was Paul Wright, 36. He said the Harry Potter series has had a major impact on culture since their release.

He said: ‘They have been huge. After all, it is one of the biggest-selling series of books ever.

‘J K Rowling went from a penniless, single mother to one of the richest women in Britain – it transformed her life.

‘The books are easy to read, well-written and serve as fantastic escapism; young people are able to run away to this fantasy world and dream of what it would be like if it was real.’

Dan Hobbs, 27, organised the event at the store. Dressed for the occasion, he said J K Rowling’s novels have had a profound effect – not only on him, but on many young people across the country.

He said: ‘Aside from making me feel old, I can’t quite believe that it is still going in the way it has.

‘It didn’t start like this, but it is now a worldwide phenomenon and is still growing.

‘This isn’t just about people my age who grew up with the books – you just mention the character of Harry Potter to children and there’s a massive interest.’

Dan added that the books were successful because of their approachable, yet engaging nature.

He explained: ‘For me, it was that you lose yourself in another world.

‘It is the standard good v evil, with the friends winning the day.

‘There wasn’t an equivalent at the time, so it filled a gap for people to fall into a fandom that they could collectively follow.’