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Irene and Ray’s fairy tale Parliament adventure

Press release   •   Jul 28, 2014 10:15 BST

Once upon a time, Rochdale Borough Libraries workers Irene Peachey and Ray Stearn were invited to a parliamentary reception in the Churchill Room in the Palace of Westminster. 

The Houses of Parliament reception was attended by people from all across the land and was hosted by Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP on behalf of the magical Booktrust. There were guest speakers including families, children and practitioners to guide Irene and Ray on their literary journey.

Irene and Ray were invited to the exclusive event on Tuesday 15 July due to their excellent work in bringing the Bookstart Bear programme to libraries across the borough, helping hundreds of children find their reading destinies.

Young Person’s Library Worker, Ray Stearn described the event as “eye-opening” and said:

“It was a wonderful event and Irene and I feel very privileged to have been invited. It is fantastic to get recognition for the work we do from people outside of the borough. We are dedicated and committed to improving the services Rochdale Borough Libraries has to offer.”

Rochdale Borough Libraries works in partnership with Booktrust along with schools and children’s centres throughout the country to work together to reach every child and to instil a love of reading in them. 

Irene and Ray discussed at the ‘Reading Together Changes Lives’ conference important literary topics like helping parents to read to their children and how to get children and young people to read for pleasure.

Councillor Neil Emmott, Cabinet Member for Corporate Services and Neighbourhoods, said:

“Getting invited to such an exclusive event is testament to Irene, Ray and Rochdale Borough Libraries. They were invited because of the amazing work they all do for the children and young people of the borough. They are a credit to Rochdale Borough Council and I hope that they continue with their outstanding progress.”

Booktrust works to get families reading together and to build children’s love of reading. The Bookstart programme has shown children in their early years that have access to books before reception age begin school with significant advantages and achieve higher attainment in all aspects of education. At age seven children who used Bookstart resources are still ahead in learning.

They’ve been so successful that along with guidance for parents and fun family activities, they gift books to 2.5m children a year across the UK - helping children read happily ever after.

As well as gifting the Bookstart packs, Rochdale Borough Libraries run Bookstart Bear Club sessions throughout the week at six libraries across the borough. For more information about the borough’s libraries please see or

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