Friday, 28 July 2017

Woolton HIll Junior School partners with West Berkshire Mencap



Woolton Hill Junior School has unveiled its new sports kit for the forthcoming school year, provided courtesy of West Berkshire Mencap.
The new kit was presented to the school by the charity’s representative Phil King at the last celebration assembly of the academic year.

It will be worn for sports ranging from football, rugby, athletics and netball and parts of the kit will even form the uniform for dodgeball, golf and archery or any sporting event where children will be representing the school.

Mr King added: “It’s quite unusual for a charity to sponsor a kit like this, but we are delighted to invest in a mutually-beneficial relationship that will raise awareness of the work that West Berkshire Mencap does locally for people with learning disabilities, plus to acknowledge the great work that Woolton Hill Junior School does to ensure inclusivity. We are looking forward to additional opportunities to work with the school and wish all of the sports teams of all ages the very best of luck for the next season.”

Yvonne Standing, headteacher at Woolton Hill Junior School, added: “The school is represented at lots of sporting events and having a bespoke sports kit means that the pupils will look the part and really be able to take pride in their appearance. We are proud at Woolton Hill Junior School that we have children of all abilities so it’s great to work with West Berkshire Mencap and we are delighted to help them heighten awareness of the valuable service they provide in the local community.”

Thursday, 13 July 2017

A Secret Sisterhood

A Secret Sisterhood
Hungerford Bookshop
15th June
Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney

Writing tends to be a solitary activity. When you think of literary greats such as Jane Austen and George Eliot, it’s often a mental image of them writing industriously in splendid isolation.

However, a new book A Secret Sisterhood by Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney has uncovered the hidden literary friendships of the world's most respected female authors. Inspired by their own friendship and encouragement for each other, Sweeney and Midorkikawa embarked on research into previously unpublished letters and diaries, proving that everyone needs support and someone to bounce ideas around with.

The pair talked to a full Hungerford Bookshop on Thursday evening about their new book and why these female friendships are not as well-known as male ones such as Byron and Shelley or Fitzgerald and Hemingway.

The talk revealed Jane Austen's bond with a family servant, the amateur playwright Anne Sharp and why the Austen family were keen to keep this quiet. Sharp was the governess of Jane Austen’s niece but does not appear in any biographies even though she was one of a select list of first people to receive presentation copies of her novels.

The pair also explored the friendships of Charlotte Bronte, who was a friend of feminist writer Mary Taylor despite their first meeting when Taylor announced that she found Bronte “very ugly” at boarding school. However, they were brought together by the love of a good political argument and their differing views helped each other see the world from opposing standpoints. They encouraged each other to make a living from their writing and Mary’s feedback on Jane Eyre was that it was not radical enough and gave such frank advice that her next novel Shirley was more openly political.

Midorikawa and Sweeney also spoke on the transatlantic relationship between George Eliot and the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe, who never actually met in real life. Their correspondence had never been published to date and Sweeney and Midorikawa found a number of letters that showed a unique insight between the two who were the most famous writers of their time on either side of the Atlantic.

Lastly, they discussed the relationship between Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf, a fantastically complex relationship which Sweeney and Midorikawa nearly dismissed believing them to be enemies. Woolf accused Mansfield of ‘stinking like a civet cat that has taken to street walking’ which doesn’t sound like the language of close friends but belied a ‘robust’ friendship that was so strong that Woolf struggled to continue writing when Mansfield died at the age of 33.

With these literary heroines’ achievements and relationships downplayed in the past, it’s reassuring to know that women have always sought strength and support from others throughout history. Sweeney summed up saying: “The truth is that intelligent, creative women have always collaborated and we feel that this is surely the moment to pass that on to our daughters.”

The book is on sale at the Hungerford Bookshop and other outlets, with a preface by Margaret Atwood.


(First appeared in the Newbury Weekly News)