Waterstones has raised over £75,000 for Booktrust's Children's Reading Fund at a charity auction night, with an accapella song performance by author Michael Morpurgo among the prizes on offer.
One hundred and twenty guests attended the dinner at the chain's flagship Piccadilly store last week (25th September), with authors including Artemis Cooper, Ken Follett, Francesca Simon and Waterstone's children's laureate Malorie Blackman, joining Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti and BBC TV presenters Cerrie Burnell and Andy Akinwolere, as well as industry figures including Penguin Random House chair Gail Rebuck and UK c.e.o. Tom Weldon, and Canongate m.d. Jamie Byng. The evening was hosted by actor and comedian Peter Serafinowicz.
Morpurgo (pictured above, with Booktrust's Viv Bird) offered a family ticket to the stage version of "War Horse", with a behind-the-scenes tour, and performed a song on top after £7,500 was pledged for the auction lot. Other lots included a tour of Highclere, the location for Downton Abbey, behind-the-scenes trips to the BBC's "Stargazing Live" and "Saturday Kitchen", a Roald Dahl package that included a tour of his archive in Great Missenden, wine from his cellar and a family ticket to "Matilda the Musical", and a wine package from Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson that included wine from the cellars of Buckingham Palace.
One of highest bids of the night came for a sleepover for 25 children in the children's section of Waterstones Piccadilly, with a bedtime story from Dame Jacqueline Wilson and a visit from ex-"Blue Peter" presenter Andy Akinwolere. A Waterstones spokesperson said: "The altruistic winner then generously handed the prize back to the Fund, who will now arrange for 25 children in care to share this incredible experience."
Waterstones m.d. James Daunt said Waterstones was "proud" to support the Children's Reading Fund."I am very grateful to the publishers and everyone else who contributed so generously and everyone who helped make it such a fabulous night," he said. Booktrust's Viv Bird, added: "What a truly amazing evening – not only for the amount of money raised from the auction but also for the number of donations from people who wanted to help change the story for children in care."
The Booktrust's Children's Reading Fund aims to "change the story" for disadvantaged children who do not have the access to books which others take for granted. Waterstones is specifically focussed on the fund's desire to bring books to children in care who have a disrupted education and are five times less likely to go to university than other children.
The money raised at the auction means that over 575 children will receive support from Booktrust's Letterbox programme, through monthly parcels of books, CDs, games and reading materials.
Other auctioned prizes included a tour of Highclere, the location for Downton Abbey, behind-the-scenes trips to the BBC's "Stargazing Live" and "Saturday Kitchen", a Roald Dahl package that included a tour of his archive in Great Missenden, wine from his cellar and a family ticket to "Matilda the Musical", and a wine package from Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson that included wine from the cellars of Buckingham Palace.