Let love in

The bookshop has been full on since we reopened at the start of May, just 7 weeks ago – which is great! But hard to find a moment to stop and take stock and keep everyone posted about what’s going on.

One thing that has become clear to me, however, is which charities I would like the bookshop to support. I have chosen one local, one national and one international.

The local one is the Kenilworth Centre, doing such wonderful things especially for young people in Kenilworth, and also hosting various groups. If you need a room for a one-off event/meeting or a regular session, do get in touch with them. It’s right in the centre of town with parking outside, and a variety of rooms to offer. It also encompasses Radio Abbey, and I would like to find a way to support the radio station in particular. I am no longer doing my radio shows, but my heart is still there!

The national one is Help Musicians UK. I have been doing what I can to support musicians during the pandemic, those whose gigs we had to cancel and others besides. Despite the return of sporting events and some indoor entertainment, live music is still struggling, and group singing indoors is still not allowed. So touring musicians and other live performers have lost nearly a year and a half of gigs, and while things are looking more positive, it will be a while before things get back to normal. I decided that rather than try to support individuals, I would support this national charity that offers help to musicians in need. One day we will get back to live gigs at the Tree House, but as we are so small, it won’t be for a while.

The international charity I have chosen is brand new. It is Ellis Park, a wildlife sanctuary in Sumatra co-founded by our wonderful patron Warren Ellis. He has been so lovely to us, and generous, and when he announced this new project, I knew we had to support it. There has been work going on in Indonesia for some years with animals who are so badly treated by humans that they can’t survive in the wild, and now, with Warren’s help, there is a team setting up a permanent home for such animals. It’s a heartbreaking but beautiful project to read about. They need funds to build enclosures and other facilities, so do have a look.

This is Baron – we will be sponsoring him at Ellis Park.

And here is an interview with Warren from The Quietus about the park.

We will give regularly to these three charities. We are not a charity, not even a social enterprise, so our ‘non-profit’ status is not official, but we use any profits we have to improve our own business and premises but also to support charities. I take a wage, though not a full-time one, and everyone else is a volunteer. Our books are all donated, which is a system based on our operating model, but also means we can keep prices low.

Yesterday, Wednesday 23 June, we had a day where all our takings went to Ellis Park, and our takings were £125, which is a good midweek total for us. Recently the wonderful Simon from The Gauntlet pub in Caesar Road gave us £150 from books sold when he was housing donations for charity while the charity shops were closed; £100 of that went to Help Musicians UK and the rest to support a couple of individual musicians. We give a small amount each month to the Kenilworth Centre, and I will look to increase that or add to it by supporting Radio Abbey specifically.

Do have a look at all these charities:

The Kenilworth Centre

Help Musicians UK

Ellis Park Sumatra

And now you know where the profits from your purchases and donations go. I also have a collecting tin for the Brompton Fountain for loose change or any time people pay us with coppers! The shop has been doing really well since we reopened, so I hope that carries on and we can continue to support these three wonderful causes.

Radio Abbey

Did you know that I am a DJ as well as a bookseller and Kenilworth’s most famous art historian?  (The latter title bestowed by Neil and Gayle, my great friends and fellow DJs, hosts of the wonderful Brunch with the Bradleys.)  I do two shows on local internet station Radio Abbey, one about books and folk music, one a celebration of nostalgic tunes from my youth – meant to get everyone dancing!  Here is this week’s episode of both.  BookFolk is on a Monday from 1-2pm, Old School Disco! is on Tuesdays from 6-7pm.  You can also Listen Again later.