My first was Airyhall Library in Aberdeen. Apparently I would insist on carrying the books home myself, tucked under my arm, even though most of them banged against my ankles. Then came Saturday mornings at Epping Library, with a stop at the Golden Iris sweet shop on the way home. And Rock Road Library in Cambridge. And Glasgow University Library where the whole city was spread beneath you and the wind nearly blew you right out of your desk on the 8th floor. And Cambridge University Library which smelt equally of scones and desperation. And now Bibliothèque Chaptal and trying to explain to my son that you CANNOT check out the fire extinguisher. When I was little I PLAYED libraries with the date stamp from Dr Dad's desk. 15 years after that my 'career orientation test' came back ... librarian. And so now, when people kept asking about 40 ... insisting I must absolutely have something to "keep", the answer was suddenly very clear. I want a library. Or rather, I want to give other children what I had. Endless, free, reading. Space to dream and space to imagine. Books you never thought you'd like, and did. Books that made your eyes wide and your curls stand on end. Books that took you somewhere else. Books that made time stop and the future race ahead, beckoning.
Constructing a 'forever' library in Africa with 'Room to Read', the charity I already volunteer for, costs £13,000. I'll be honest. I have absolutely no idea how I'm going to raise this sum. But I will do it, in this, my year of 40. And I'm starting here, today. And the second part of this promise? Some time in my 40s I will visit that library. Sit down between the shelves and dive in. With all the other kids. And just get lost again in books.
Here, at so-called 'mid-life', it's the best gift I could give or have. Here goes ....

Raising money for

Room To Read

Room To Read

Charity Registration No. 1125803

Room to Read seeks to transform the lives of millions of children in developing countries by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education. Working with communities, partner organisations and governments, we develop literacy skills, a habit of reading, and support girls to complete school.

Raising money for

Run by Room To Read

Charity Registration No. 1125803

Donations 31

My mother in law will love receiving the poems that you've compiled. Thank you for thinking of such a thoughtful way to raise money for Room to Read

Donation by Jane Bakey on 11/05/15

40,00 €

What a great idea Catherine, I know my mum will love receiving the poems!

Donation by Katy Debost on 10/05/15

40,00 €

So happy to be able to participate in this. Thanks for your offer - 2 Motherhood prescriptions. I can't wait for my Mom and sister to receive them.

Donation by Sharon Moore on 08/05/15

80,00 €

Hi Catherine, Nice meeting you today. Great way to celebrate your 40th!

Donation by Lauren Renaud on 05/05/15

120,00 €

Inspiring Catherine!!

Donation by With thanks and gratitude. B on 03/04/15

Thank you for a month of beautiful poetry, for all the inspiration and the hope that others will receive more gifts like this!

Donation by Jenny Ross on 31/03/15

100,00 €

A wonderful idea, expressed in wonderful words, from a wonderful person, whom I had the great privilege of meeting at a reunion event, and whose geniality and welcoming nature I can truly attest to.

Donation by Anonymous on 29/03/15


+ £25.00 Gift Aid

Mother's Day poem commission please!

Donation by Tim on 14/03/15

40,00 €

Mother's day poem commission please

Donation by Rachel on 13/03/15

beautiful project!

Donation by Anonymous on 12/03/15

120,00 €

Thank you Catherine. xxx

Donation by Steph & Philippe on 07/03/15

Thank you Catherine. xx

Donation by Stephanie Poletti on 07/03/15

100,00 €

Beautiful person, beautiful idea, beautiful gift for a beautiful friend. Thank you for the poetry, such a special present. PS I will gladly work in this library for free. Keep going! X

Donation by Alison Marshall on 23/02/15

100,00 €

Catherine - a toast to you for taking on this challenge! It is beautiful project - a poetry prescription to begin each day!

Donation by Amanda Paul-Garnier on 19/12/14

Poetry prescription for Christmas - what a wonderful idea!

Donation by Hanna de Carvalho on 24/11/14

40,00 €

For all the passion you put into this, for your love of books, for your love of children around the world less lucky than our own. (Belatedly, I know, but I got there eventually!)

Donation by Monica Azzolini on 10/10/14

AMAZING work Catherine, such a brilliant cause and I really hope you get your library!

Donation by Milly Unwin on 31/07/14

What a wonderful and typically Cath thing to be doing. Good luck in your quest from a fellow bibliophile. Much love, Judy. Xx

Donation by Anonymous on 27/07/14


+ £12.50 Gift Aid

To The Catherine, The idea of you reading The Faraway Tree to and with children anywhere, is a fantastic one. They will be so lucky they met you. As I. Im sorry for having being a pain.

Donation by Ebba on 24/07/14


Happy birthday! Can't imagine a better gift for the beneficiaries of Room to Read. I wish you all the best and I hope you raise all this money for a great cause.

Donation by Kim Segel on 23/07/14

Well done you, what a fab idea.loads of love jess x

Donation by Jess Roberts on 23/07/14


+ £2.50 Gift Aid

Lovely Catherine, so happy to pass on the takings from the cake eating, with a topping from O and I. Looking forward to seeing pictures of the first foundations being laid. xxxx

Donation by Olav, Eve and all the cake eaters! on 23/07/14

650,00 €

Dear Cath, this is to celebrate a wonderful trip to Africa almost 4 years ago (!) and the amazing children and people we met along the way! Good luck in this venture and keep us posted! Vxx

Donation by Victoria on 23/07/14


+ £12.50 Gift Aid

Happy 40th and a half!!! We love and miss you all! Good luck in reaching your goal.

Donation by Todd Chavanne on 16/07/14


Happy Birthday, Catherine! I didn't know about this until you mentioned it on Saturday, not being on FaceBook. An overdue present. RtR seems utterly brilliant. Love - Adam

Donation by Adam Freudenheim on 07/04/14

Donation summary

  • * Online donations£2,949.78
  • Offline donations£0.00
  • Text donations£0.00
  • Total raised£2,949.78
  • Gift Aid£231.25

* Charities pay a small fee for our service. Find out how much it is and what we do for it.