A village that saved its heart

THE villagers who saved Somersham library from closure by running it themselves have received a royal reward, including a day out at Buckingham Palace. In recognition of their achievement, the volunteers were also presented on Saturday with a Queen s Awar

THE villagers who saved Somersham library from closure by running it themselves have received a royal reward, including a day out at Buckingham Palace.

In recognition of their achievement, the volunteers were also presented on Saturday with a Queen's Award for Industry by the Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, Hugh Duberly.

In 2002, the library was one of 10 marked for closure by Cambridgeshire County Council.

However, Somersham residents formed themselves into the Friends of Somersham Library (FOSL) and took control of the facility. They have since expanded it into a community information centre providing computer and internet access and offering training sessions to teach software skills.


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A rota of volunteers runs the library as well as a weekly storytime session for young children, and a monthly coffee morning, quizzes, talks and a reading group.

The library has become so successful that this summer members of the group were invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace in recognition of their achievement.

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Julie Lidle, chairman of FOSL, said: "We are very honoured to receive this magnificent award. It is a vindication of our belief in making something special happen in our community. It is a reflection of the commitment and hard work of all the volunteers involved.

"When we were faced with the loss of our library, Friends of Somersham Library was formed to oppose the closure.

"We were determined to keep our library and, if that meant funding it and running it ourselves, we would do just that. And so we did, and the county council has supported us in our enterprise."

She added: "A library is more than books on a shelf. It is a community itself, it is a centre for education, it is a meeting place at the heart of our village."

The volunteers carry out all the tasks at the library - from working in the centre during opening hours, to book buying and organising fundraising events, to cleaning, gardening, and maintaining the building.

INFORMATION: Somersham Library is in Church Street, opposite St John's Church. Opening hours are: Monday, 2-6pm, Tuesday, 10am-noon and 2-6pm, Wednesday, closed, Thursday 2-8pm, Friday 2-6pm and Saturday 10am- 12.30pm.

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