Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership (TVCRP) joined forces with Northumberland Libraries to participate in World Book Night, which was to be celebrated on Friday 23 April 2021. World Book Night is an annual celebration of books and reading organised by the Reading Agency, bringing people from all backgrounds together for one reason, to inspire others.
Northumberland Libraries were one of ten library authorities chosen to distribute a free book to mark the occasion. Each book contained a leaflet from the libraries and a flyer from TVCRP. The book selected by the Reading Agency was The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig.
TVCRP volunteers were happy to help, with books distributed to the station adopters along the line at Haltwhistle, Haydon Bridge, Hexham, Corbridge, Stocksfield, Prudhoe, Wylam and Blaydon. Although Blaydon is not in Northumberland, many young people use the railway to commute to school in Blaydon.
Each station was able to choose their own times for distributing the book. Wylam caught the morning commuters, Hexham did late afternoon and Blaydon also did the afternoon to catch the young people returning home from school. It was a lovely sunny day and one of the first occasions the volunteers have been able to get back on the platform. Social distancing was practised and volunteers all wore their high viz jackets and masks. Northern staff were given notice about the event so the volunteers were given a toot from the passing train crews.
Passengers were pleased to be given a free book, and it was good to be able to give passengers and unexpected gift for returning to the railway. In fact all the trains which passed seemed much busier than they had been in previous weeks. Volunteers all enjoyed participating in this event. The weather was superb, and it was great to be able to engage with people again. Everyone was very happy to have been offered a book even if they declined it.
At Wylam the night before, a message was posted on the village Facebook group “What’s on Wylam” giving notice of this event and this had a great response.
“…this kind gesture was very touching. I read the book to my kid on the train, we both enjoyed this soothing way to start the day”.
The event was also tweeted about by Wylam Brownies (@wylambrownies), and was the most liked tweet the brownies have had. Matt Haig, liked it and used their photographs in his Instagram post.
Feed back from the event has been positive. The Blaydon Facebook page posted, “Fantastic, I am reading it right now…Matt Haig is a brilliant author”.
Marie Addison, Northern’s regional community and sustainability manager (North East) said: “I was delighted to be involved in such an enjoyable event. It was fantastic to see the volunteers engaging with customers to support the annual celebration of World Book Night. A huge thank you to TVCRP and Station Adopters for handing out boos at stations along the line”.
Fiona Forsythe TVCRP officer said: ”Reading and trains go together! It was a great way to chat to passengers and what an opportunity for social media!”