60th Anniversary Celebrations

Last night we celebrated our 60th anniversary with some of our core supporters at a reception generously hosted by Pearson. Our founder’s granddaughter Rose Tomalin joined us.

We were delighted to have John Fallon, CEO of Pearson, speaking. He talked about visiting a small school in Uganda and how the reverence with which the headmaster treated the tiny school library really brought home to him the value of each and every book in Africa.

John Fallon, Pearson Plc CEO

John Fallon, Pearson Plc CEO

The actor Neil Pearson spoke of his love of books and libraries, which began at a young age and saw him queuing up at his local library as an act of veneration as much as necessity, given he doesn’t remember there ever being anyone else in the queue.

Neal Pearson (left) with our Chair, Lord Boateng (right)

Neal Pearson (left) with our Chair, Lord Boateng (right)

The evening included an awards ceremony presented by Neil Pearson, to symbolise our appreciation for all that our supporters have done to enable our work over the past 60 years.

Emma House from the Publisher’s Association accepted an award on behalf of the UK publishing sector.

Left to right: Our Chair Lord Boateng, Director Alison Hubert, Rose Tomalin, Emma House and Neil Pearson.

Left to right: Our Chair Lord Boateng, Director Alison Hubert, Rose Tomalin, Emma House and Neil Pearson.

Major General Angus Ramsay of The Beit Trust received an award on behalf of all the organisations that support Book Aid International financially.

Virginia Berkeley, one of Book Aid International’s earliest volunteers and Fergus Cass, our longest-serving Trustee were also given awards to recognise our appreciation of those people who donate their time and expertise to us.

Deputy High Commissioner of Cameroon, Mr Denis Nyuydzewira, accepted an award on behalf of Education Information Services International in Cameroon representing our many partner organisations.

Deputy High Commissioner of Cameroon, Mr Denis Nweedzeweera speaking with Lord Boateng and Neil Pearson.

Deputy High Commissioner of Cameroon, Mr Denis Nweedzeweera speaking with Lord Boateng (L) and Neil Pearson (R).

Finally, Joanna Lumley, a great friend and ally of Book Aid International, asked Neil Pearson to read a few words out on her behalf.

“I wish I were there with you to tell you how fervently I support Book Aid International:

I wish I could tell you how incredibly grateful the charity is to all the individual donors who have given again and again, sometimes small sums, sometimes large amounts, and all as precious as gold to us.

Every single pound is treasured and spent wisely, and my personal thanks fly out to all those who give so generously enabling our work to continue and grow.”

Posted in Africa, Blog, Cameroon, Education, Events, Libraries, Literacy, Volunteering | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Libraries in Africa receive huge boost from players of People’s Postcode Lottery

Book Aid International today announced a major new award from players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Players of People’s Postcode Lottery will provide £175,000 towards Book Aid International’s work in partnership with libraries in Africa to support literacy and development in the region.

Alison Hubert, Director of Book Aid International, said: “Book Aid International will be even more ambitious in our work to transform library services for children in sub-Saharan Africa thanks to this generous support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery. In a region where so many children live below the poverty line and literacy levels are amongst the lowest in the world this work is of vital importance to empower young people to build better futures for themselves and their communities.

We look forward to seeing the impact in Africa of the support of players over the coming years. Thank you to players of People’s Postcode Lottery!

Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, Clara Govier, said: “We had the privilege of being able to see Book Aid International’s work in action in Blantyre, Malawi with its partner the Malawi National Library Service. We were so struck by the enthusiasm of children for the new Children’s Corner – they really were thrilled that the library had this fabulous new space for them – a bright airy room, filled with murals, children’s furniture and of course, hundreds of brand new books from the UK – all made possible by Book Aid International. The charity’s work is so obviously practical and empowering – it really changes lives in Africa.

Book Aid International will be prioritising its programme of improving children’s services across sub-Saharan Africa with the support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Five libraries in Malawi have already been identified as being amongst the next to benefit from new Children’s Corners, which Book Aid International has already successfully established with local partners in Uganda, Tanzania, Cameroon and Kenya.

Funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery was announced at an event this evening to mark the charity’s 60th anniversary, hosted by the publisher Pearson. The evening recognised the contribution that publishers, volunteers, funders and donors make towards the charity’s work.



For further information and comment please contact Harriet Beaumont, Book Aid International Communications Manager

Email Harriet

t: 020 7326 5816

m: 07900 203307

Book Aid International

Book Aid International works in partnership with libraries in Africa, providing new books, resources and training to support an environment in which reading for pleasure, study and lifelong learning can flourish. The charity’s vision is of vibrant libraries that inspire readers and empower communities.


About People’s Postcode Lottery

  • People’s Postcode Lottery is a charity lottery. Players play with their postcodes to win cash prizes while raising money for charities and good causes local to them.
  • People’s Postcode Lottery is an External Lottery Manager and manages multiple society lotteries promoted by different causes supporting a range of good causes. For details on which society lottery is running each week, visit www.postcodelottery.co.uk/society
  • Postcode Lottery Limited is regulated by the Gambling Commission under certificate nr 829-N-102511-009 and 829-R-102513-008. Registered office: Titchfield House, 69/85 Tabernacle Street, London, EC2A 4RR
  • People’s Postcode Lottery players support the following Trusts – Postcode Green Trust, Postcode Care Trust, Postcode Culture Trust, Postcode Animal Trust, Postcode Heroes Trust, Postcode Global Trust, Postcode African Trust, Postcode Children Trust, Postcode Community Trust and People’s Postcode Trust. These Trusts are funded entirely by players and support a variety of good causes. For further information on each charity, visit: www.postcodelottery.co.uk/charities
  • 50p from every £2 ticket goes to good causes and players have raised over £53.8 Million for good causes across the country
  • There are five draws a month with prizes every day and each ticket costs £2 – paid monthly in advance by direct debit. For further prize information, visit: www.postcodelottery.co.uk/prizes
  • Maximum amount a single ticket can win is 10% of the draw revenue to a maximum of £400,000
  • Players can sign up by Direct Debit, credit card or PayPal online at www.postcodelottery.co.uk, or by calling 0808 10-9-8-7-6-5.
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Going the distance for fundraising

Two incredible Book Aid International supporters are going to incredible lengths to help us make a difference with books.

Maria Centrone has recently completed an amazing nine-day lifetime trek through the dense Bwindi forest in Uganda, and trekking up the steep trails of the 3,645 metre volcano, Mount Sabinyo. Such were the demands of this incredible adventure that Maria had to prepare for three long months to increase her fitness, working on her strength, stamina and endurance.

As well as raising much needed funds for Book Aid International and achieving a personal and physical challenge, Maria’s reward was glimpsing the extremely rare Golden Monkeys and Mountain Gorillas which live in this rich ecosystem.

Ugandan mountains

Ugandan mountains


Meanwhile Archie Aston has recently set off on an epic 12-month walking journey through Europe, in support of our work. In an innovative twist, Archie is inviting people to join him as he travels on foot through Spain, France, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. We’d love to hear from anyone who wants to join Archie for a stretch on his journey!

tumblr_ne4b62rayn1u2rgljo2_500 He said: ‘Education and literacy, an ignition of desire for learning, empowering those the world has forgotten, tools to stop the abhorrent chapters in our shared histories from repeating themselves, as they do, time and time again. It’s not human nature to commit evil, but like a stubborn weed, evil will take root where the light of reason fails to shine. I implore you to support Book Aid International, a charity who understand this truth, and provide the perpetual beauty of books to those who otherwise would not have them.’

We’re so incredibly grateful for all the sweat and miles that Maria and Archie have put in, and for all the difference their efforts will make. Please do show them your support. Because books really do change lives.

Posted in Blog, Fundraising, Uganda | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Supporting health information throughout Africa

Last month saw a fascinating conference taking place for libraries with an interest in supporting and spreading health information in Africa.

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It’s an important area of work for Book Aid International, both because of the key roles doctors, nurses and other health professionals play in their communities, and the relative expense and scarcity of books and other documents on health-related topics. The books we send range from diagnostic and pharmaceutical manuals for hospital and university libraries, to healthcare handbooks for community libraries.

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The conference, at Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, looked at access to health information and knowledge and the growing role of information and communication technology in supporting that. Interestingly, it showed that technology such as websites are helping to increase access to health information, but that librarians are facing new challenges to harness and promote this content, both to health professionals and the wider communities.

Book Aid International’s experience of supporting and providing health information was referenced in several places, such as the Elsevier Foundation’s presentation, which featured our recent work with partners in Kenya and Tanzania.

But perhaps the most valuable aspect of being there was to meet so many like-minded individuals, agencies and organisations. We were delighted to receive such strong messages of enthusiasm and support – and we look forward to working with partners as we continue to help improve access and use of health information across Africa.

Posted in Africa, Blog, Kenya, Tanzania | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

We’re going to be on BBC Radio 4!

We are delighted that Jonathan Dimbleby will be presenting the Book Aid International BBC Radio 4 Appeal in January 2015. Jonathan is a highly respected writer, broadcaster and film-maker and has presented Any Questions? for BBC Radio 4 for over 25 years. In 2010, BBC2 broadcast An African Journey with Jonathan Dimbleby in which he travelled throughout the continent to discover how it is changing.

Jonathan Dimbleby

Jonathan is the perfect advocate for Book Aid International as he really understands the importance of our work:

“I have travelled throughout sub-Saharan Africa over the last 40 years and I know what a wonderful difference Book Aid International makes to the lives of millions of people. Books and libraries are a source of pleasure, delight and inspiration which is of inestimable value to the lives of everyone.”

Local children enjoying Nambi SSeppuuya Community Library, Uganda

Local children enjoying Nambi SSeppuuya Community Library, Uganda

The appeal will broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 07:55 and 21:25 GMT on Sunday 18th January and again on Thursday 22nd January at 15:25 GMT. We do hope that you will tune in and let your friends and family know.

Posted in Africa, BBC Radio 4, Blog, Education, Fundraising, Jonathan Dimbleby, Literacy | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment