The day we met Queen Camilla

QUEEN Camilla’s first solo engagement since the Coronation was in Bristol – and some children from two local schools were lucky enough to share it.

The Queen is patron of the National Literacy Trust, which has been spearheading a campaign to improve primary school libraries in recognition of the role they can play in fostering a lifelong love of reading.

The Primary School Library Alliance campaign will include 50 Coronation libraries at schools around the country, the first of which is at Shirehampton Primary in north Bristol.

Children and staff from ten schools in the West, including Air Balloon Hill Primary and Summerhill Academy, were invited to visit Shirehampton for a celebration event with leading authors and illustrators.

It was only after they arrived that the pupils, librarians and teachers learned that the Queen was also attending.

The day involved a “draw your dream library’ workshop alongside two former Children’s Laureates, How to Train Your Dragon author Cressida Cowell and Noughts and Crosses author Malorie Blackman.  This was followed by reading sessions with Francesca Simon, who wrote the Horrid Henry series, and contributions from illustrators Chris Smith and Rob Biddulph and author Jasbinder Bilal.

Her Majesty was presented with the Coronation Collection – a selection of 23 books voted for by over 12,000 children across the UK. One of the aims of the Primary School Library Alliance is to improve access to age-appropriate and diverse books.
It also wants to create inspirational reading spaces and train more staff to deliver reading activities. 

National Literacy Trust CEO, Jonathan Douglas said: “Astonishingly, 1 in 7 state primary schools does not have a library so we are very proud to be working with our partners and helping to enhance 1,000 reading spaces in primary schools across the UK. It has been fantastic  to  launch the Coronation Libraries project and to mark such an important milestone for the Primary School Library Alliance.” 

Summerhill vice principal, Kirsty McLeod-Hughes, who attended the event, said: “As always, I couldn’t have been more proud of our fabulous children for the way they represented our community during the event. 

“They spoke with respect and confidence and put to good use all of the skills that we teach them every day in school.”

A spokesman for Air Balloon Hill school said: “It was a truly inspiring day.”