The IoS Happy List was set up in 2008 to recognise and celebrate people who enrich the lives of others and make Britain a happier and more caring place to be. From charity fundraisers and founders to teachers, emergency service workers and community heroes, the Happy List features those who have made an extraordinary effort within their local communities and beyond for no personal gain, giving back to others instead. What makes the Happy List so special is that the nominations are made entirely by the public and readers of the Independent on Sunday.
As Founder of The Reader Organisation, Jane has pioneered the practice of shared reading as a way not only to experience the emotional power but also the sheer pleasure that comes from reading great literature aloud, together. From setting up the first ever shared reading group in Birkenhead in 2002, hundreds of groups now run across the UK reaching people of all ages, backgrounds and circumstances. The combination of the texts read, a relaxed and informal atmosphere and being in the company of others on a regular weekly basis – as well as the additional treats of tea and biscuits – make the groups beneficial to many of our members, giving a boost to wellbeing and confidence as well as fostering new friendships.
‘I don’t know what it is but after this group I always leave feeling better. It’s like a life tonic.’
‘Shared reading is like sitting around a fire and telling stories to each other – a way of binding us together.’
– shared reading group members
Shared reading brings many happy moments to our Readers each week, but what is it that makes Jane happy? Getting out and admiring the blooms around our HQ at Calderstones Park is near the top of the list, and earlier this week she was joined on one of her walks by Louise Jones, a long-time group member. Louise gave Jane the remarkable news that since Jane announced her goal to get fit and raise money for the Calderstones Mansion project she has saved up £1 a week to put towards the fund. Not only that, but she presented Jane with the money that she has generously saved. A wonderful gesture which will go towards giving future generations a happy, welcoming and vibrant place to call a home from home. There’s still time to be part of the last push – you can sponsor Jane’s efforts by visiting her fundraising page.
The Happy List 2015 is available in full in today’s Independent on Sunday, and online. All the chosen 100 Happy Listers will be invited to a celebratory reception hosted in their honour by luxury hotel group Grange Hotels in central London this summer, and there’s even more exciting news ahead as every individual featured on the Happy List will also receive the accolade of being put forward for special recognition at the JustGiving 2015 Awards.
For more ways to feel happy, visit the dedicated Happy List digital hub: http://www.independent.co.uk/happylist/ and see @happylist100. Remember, you can always pop into one of our open shared reading groups around the UK too: see the full, up-to-date list on our website: http://www.thereader.org.uk/reading-with-us