An Afternoon of Roald Dahl

‘Never Grow Up, Always Down’ North West charity urges Cheshire residents ahead of Roald Dahl Day event series

The Reader arrives in Chester with an evening of Roald Dahl for big kids at The Storyhouse.

Local charity The Reader is launching a Shared Reading campaign in Cheshire on Roald Dahl Day with an evening at Storyhouse celebrating the magic of reading aloud with adults.

The ‘Evening of Roald Dahl’ event, from 6pm to 8pm on Thursday 13th September, will showcase some of the author’s lesser-known adults’ stories, including The Umbrella Man.

Well known for his enchanting and enduring tales for children, Dahl also wrote 51 short stories for adults, collected in four books, some of which might not be suitable for small ears, they are: Over to You; Kiss, Kiss; Someone Like You and Switch Bitch.

The event is part of The Reader’s Cheshire roadshow, created for October’s Voluntary Arts and Age UK Age of Creativity festival, which is designed to get more older people involved in creative activities.

The roadshow will see The Reader popping up for ‘An Afternoon of Roald Dahl’ in Northwich Library on 1st October and at Ellesmere Port Library on 3rd October, both from 1pm to 3pm. It will then head back to Storyhouse on 7th October to celebrate Silver Sunday, with Shared Reading sessions at 2pm and 3pm, in collaboration with Brightlife as part of Age UK Cheshire’s Love Later Life festival.

The Reader was founded in Liverpool a decade ago and is now supporting 500 Shared Reading groups up and down the country every single week, including more than 200 in the North West.

The Storyhouse already hosts two of these groups. The Cheshire campaign will see the launch of 10 more, led by 20 new local volunteers, in a variety of community, dementia and mental health centres across the county.

“Isolation among adults has been shown to be a public health problem in Cheshire, as it is across the country, with more than 2 million people suffering from chronic loneliness,” said The Reader’s founder and chief executive Jane Davis.

We’re now appealing for the people of Cheshire to join the reading revolution – particularly those who are keen to build Shared Reading communities in Chester, Northwich, Ellesmere Port, Weaverham and Tarporley. As Roald Dahl said in his final children’s book, The Minpins, ‘those who don’t believe in magic will never find it’, so come along to one of our roadshow events to experience it in action.

This project is supported by Brightlife Cheshire, a coalition of organisations working together to help reduce social isolation among people aged over 50 in Cheshire West and Chester, as well as the NHS West Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group, responsible for commissioning health and care services across the area, with a particular focus on dementia and mental health for this project.

Evaluation carried out by The Reader and the University of Liverpool has shown that Shared Reading groups can improve wellbeing, reduce social isolation and build stronger, more supportive communities.

Groups are free to attend and open to everyone regardless of age, ability or background. Weekly sessions are led by a trained Reader Leader who brings something – a short story, poem, play or novel – to be read aloud and discussed by the group.

By reading with purpose, and sharing thoughts and reflections, many group members find personal meaning in the literature and form strong social connections with others.

“It’s fantastic to see The Reader taking part in Brightlife’s Silver Sunday celebrations at Storyhouse in Chester,” said Chris McClelland, Head of Brightlife. “This project is a wonderful example of how the arts, culture or just a shared interest can really bring people together to help combat loneliness in our borough.”