"Own Books" scheme receives royal recognition - The Leamington Observer

"Own Books" scheme receives royal recognition

Leamington Editorial 23rd Jan, 2024   0

A COMMUNITY project geared at giving youngsters access to free books is now the proud owner of a royal award.

Henley-based Own Books received the news it had been awarded The King’s Award for Voluntary Service – the highest award a voluntary organisation can receive in the UK and equivalent to an MBE – in November.

And Own Books charity founder Julie de Bastion was presented with the award by Lord-Lieutenant of Warwickshire Tim Cox.

Own Books is a child-centred book recycling project which enables youngsters to read their own books at home regardless of background.

It aims to encourage young children to develop an early love of books and reading through choosing and keeping their own books at home but without the financial stress for parents of needing to buy books. It also aims to foster a love of sharing these books with siblings and family.

Julie founded Own Books in 2014 while assisting with voluntary reading in her local primary school and discovering that some of the young children did not possess books at home.

She asked local charity shops for any children’s books they could give her, and securing a regular supply of books, and with the school’s enthusiastic response, this new idea of giving away books for free for children to take home and keep was born.

Two older children in each participating school are appointed book monitors so children can claim ownership of the scheme – sorting books, labelling them with the Own Books stickers and organising and displaying the books as they like.

Julie told The Observer: “We are delighted and very honoured to receive this prestigious award for Own Books and the wonderful, amazing volunteers who help run it. I could not do it without them, of course.

“We began ten years ago, and now with amazing volunteers and charitable status, we have evolved to supplying over 100 schools up and down the country.

“Own Books seems to run on pixie dust as nothing had been planned. There was no business plan of any kind. things just evolved in a very organic way, and whenever we needed something in some amazing miraculous form, it just appeared whether it was a volunteer or more books or a storage space. It was just somehow available to us.

“Now we have been recognised with with the kings award for voluntary services.”

The charity is among 262 UK charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the award this year.

It recognises outstanding work by local volunteer groups to benefit their communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee and, following his accession, His Majesty The King emphasised his desire to continue the award.

Members of the charity will also attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace this summer, along with other recipients of the award.

For more information on Own Book visit ownbooks.co.uk/


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