East Belfast community hub Walkway smiles better with Specsavers book donation

Women’s groups from Newtownards Road based Walkway Community Association are benefiting from a Specsavers ‘Stories to Make You Smile’ book donation as a follow-on from this year’s highly successful World Book Night celebration of reading and books initiative.

Members of Walkway’s crochet club, the Happy Hookers, a young mums and a local women’s group have received 20 copies of a collection of short stories entitled, ‘Stories to Make You Smile’ courtesy of the team at Specsavers in Connswater Shopping complex to share the joy and power of reading with each other.

The book which features uplifting tales by bestselling authors including well-known television names Richard Madeley, Jenny Éclair and Helen Lederer, was co-commissioned by Specsavers and The Reading Agency to mark this year’s 10th World Book Night extravaganza held on 23 April.

A thriving hub for local people in the Holywood Arches, Connswater and Lewis Square area of East Belfast, Walkway is looking forward to a new £1.5 million purpose built facility set to open in Spring 2022 when the local community organization marks its 30th birthday.

East Belfast author Glenn Patterson dips into short stories collection Stories to Make You Smile along with Walkway’s Rebekah Hamilton (right) and Lynsey Caldwell (left) from Connswater Specsavers. Newtownards Road based Walkway Community Association are benefiting from a Specsavers book donation as a follow-on from this year’s highly successful World Book Night celebration of reading initiative. Glenn Patterson’s latest novel Where Are We Now was one of 22 books chosen to be part of this year’s official World Book Night reading list

Walkway centre manager Rachael Davison said, ‘As a locally focused group we’re thrilled to partner and forge links with our business and retail neighbours. This book donation from Connswater Specsavers will be shared and enjoyed by members, many of whom are avid readers. We deliver an extensive of range of programmes for local people to help benefit and develop opportunities for everyone in the area.

‘Our new enlarged centre will be second to none and will enable us to support so many more families, individuals, local business people and other community groups. No doubt our Specsavers ‘Stories to Make Your Smile’ books will have a special place on the shelves in one of our chill-out rooms in the new building.

Like Walkway Community Association, Connswater Specsavers has been an integral part of the area for the past 20 years looking after the eye and hearing health of local people from across East Belfast.

Lynsey Caldwell, dispensing optician and co-owner of Specsavers in Connswater said, ‘It was a pleasure to donate these specially written books to members of Walkway Community Association. Reading is one of the great pleasures in life and allows us to delve into other worlds as well improve our ability to think, write and challenge ourselves and of course it helps our overall health and wellbeing. We look forward to seeing the new Walkway Centre when it is finished. It will certainly be a fabulous asset for local people and the locality generally.’

Established by UK wide charity The Reading Agency, World Book Night aims to bring people together and inspire others to read more. Top names involved in this year’s celebrations which included a series on livestreamed and online events and activities were broadcaster Sandi Toksvig, Remains of the Day author Kazuo Ishiguro, screenwriter and novelist David Nicholls and Labyrinth writer Kate Mosse.

East Belfast author Glenn Patterson’s latest novel Where Are We Now was one of 22 books chosen to be part of this year’s official World Book Night reading list. The book is a moving, funny and topical story about lost love and growing older, set against a backdrop of modern day Belfast. Glenn joined Walkway community officer Rebekah Hamilton and Lynsey Caldwell from Specsavers to celebrate Walkway’s literary windfall.

In Northern Ireland World Book Night was supported by The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the MAC and Libraries NI who came together to encourage everyone to settle down and curl up with a book and enjoy the annual reading celebration. The Arts Council and the MAC gifted 160 free copies of Glenn Patterson’s featured book to community groups, book clubs and members of the public.

Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development, at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland commented, ‘Experiencing the joy of reading is something that we can benefit from and this year, more than ever, reading and having a story to escape into has taken on a renewed importance in so many of our lives.

“We had a fantastic response to World Book Night in Northern Ireland and it is wonderful to see another local community group benefitting from the initiative, thanks to Specsavers.’

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