National Executive

The National Executive Committee is made up of a number of willing volunteers, all of whom are members of the Federation and who wish to be involved at a national level, often in addition to active membership of a local group. The committee meets 4 times a year. If you wish to attend as an observer, please let us know by emailing info@fcbg.org.uk at least two weeks in advance.

Chair and NNFN     Chris Routh (Reading CBG)
Vice Chair and newsletter   Diane Gaunt (Dudley CBG)
Secretary    Denise Lawrence (Herts CBG)
Treasurer    Jane Etheridge (Oxted CBG)

Children’s Book Award Coordinator    Sarah Stuffins (Reading CBG)
Conference programme    Ros Bartlett (Dudley CBG)
Group Liaison Officer and Child Protection Officer   Hilarie Medler (Plymouth CBG)
Jean Russell Project Coordinator    Julia Miller  (Lincolnshire CBG)
Minutes Secretary    Karen Hellewell (Aldbourne CBG)
Carousel    Louise Stothard (Oxford CBG)
National Share a Story Month Tricia Adams

Chair and NNFN
Chris Routh (Reading CBG)

I can’t really remember not being able to read and was a regular visitor to the local library from a very early age. Reading has been a life-long passion for me! Sharing stories with my own children was always a joy and I’ve been lucky enough to work with books and children throughout my career as a librarian. I currently work in an independent secondary school in Reading.

I love YA fiction – Patrick Ness’s books, Sally Nicholls’s Things a Bright Girl Can Do, Philip Pullman’s The Book of Dust and Philip Reeves’s Railhead series are all recent favourites. Even though I belong to our PTA Book Club, I never seem to have enough time to read much adult fiction – but I particularly enjoyed reading several of the books shortlisted for the Booker Prize last year, including Elmet by Fiona Mozley and Exit West by Mohsin Hamid.

I am also fascinated by book design and illustration and always enjoy shadowing the Kate Greenaway Award with our school Book Clubs, and as a member of a testing group, reviewing the younger titles for the Children’s Book Award. The physical aspect of books – embossed boards, jacket designs, endpapers, paper, print, pictures, shape and size – are an added source of pleasure.

Don’t ever ask me what my favourite book is!! It is always the one I’m currently reading. I think it’s to do with being a librarian – always finding something to enjoy and thinking about who I’m going to recommend the book to!

Vice Chair and newsletter   Diane Gaunt (Dudley CBG)

My sisters and I received a book for every birthday and every Christmas. Because my parents had left school at 13 and had never been fiction readers, they chose Enid Blyton every time. I progressed from The Magic Faraway Tree to The Secret Seven series. I will be forever grateful that they somehow instinctively knew how important reading was. They gave me a love of stories which was eventually nourished by secondary English teachers.  I was an adult before I discovered children’s classics such as Winnie the Pooh and the Narnia stories.

As a young teacher I always read young teen fiction and the joy of my profession was to put the right book into the hands of a pupil who then was hooked on reading for pleasure! As a parent, I discovered a whole new world of children’s fiction.  My boys and I loved Dear Zoo and Wibbly Pig, wallowed in the illustrations and the fun of David Melling’s The Kiss That Missed, cried over Private Peaceful and raved about John Green’s work as they got older.

My older son is dyslexic and I didn’t think he would ever curl up with a good book independently, but we persisted with reading to and with him for a long time until the moment of relief and pride when ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ proved to be the book which held the key for him.  My younger son is a bookworm and will devour almost anything: what a gift to have books recommended to me by him now!  He eagerly awaits my return from conference when he has a huge pile of books to read before they are officially published and he can be one step ahead of his friends!”

Secretary    Denise Lawrence (Herts CBG)

I joined the FCBG Executive as Conference Rep at the 2017 AGM working with the Exec and other Herts Group members to host the Federation’s 50th Anniversary Conference which was held at Queenswood School 13th – 15th April 2018.

I have been editor of UpdaTED since June 2017 and was elected National Secretary of the Federation at the 2018 AGM.

I have always loved books and reading (especially mythology) and as a child devoured all the books in the children’s section of our local public library before moving on to the adult books.  At that time there were no Teen or Young adult sections and I remember my first grown-up book was a copy of Agatha Christie’s At Bertram’s Hotel

When I grew up it seemed a natural progression to become a Librarian.  I started my career in Special Libraries, moved to Academic Libraries, spent a stint at the Hertfordshire School Library Services before finding my niche as a school librarian.  I am currently Librarian at Ridgeway Academy in Welwyn Garden City where I can indulge my love of teen and YA fiction.  I still love detective mysteries and fantasy and Terry Pratchett remains one of my all-time favourite authors.

Treasurer    Jane Etheridge (Oxted CBG)

Choosing a favourite children’s book is an impossible task. My choice of book depends on my mood, whether I want to laugh or to be swept away on an exciting adventure. I always read books at least twice: the first time would be spent racing through to the end to find out what happened and the second would enable me to appreciate the story properly. I have passed all of my books on to my children so they also love to read about Moomin and all his friends, Mary Plain’s escapades in the books by Gwynedd Rae and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s pioneering life on the Prairie.

I suppose my favourite books usually had a storyline involving the sort of adventure I wanted to have. They often included myths or fairy tales, such as ‘Henrietta’s House’ by Elizabeth Goudge or ‘The Weirdstone of Brisingamen’ and ‘The Owl Service’ by Alan Garner, which inspired me to read ‘The Mabinogion’.

As well as sharing my old books with my daughters I have discovered new authors. We all loved Kipper, Percy the Park Keeper and Little Bear. We didn’t just read the books; we had to act them out as well. I’ve built many rockets, time travel machines and a transmogrifier, which produced several clones of my younger daughter. One of our favourites for reading together is Jackie Morris’ beautiful Barefoot Book of Classic Poems.

Children’s Book Award Coordinator    Sarah Stuffins (Reading CBG)

This year I’m returning to a role I enjoyed doing a few years ago before becoming chair. I’m passionate about the Children’s Book Award and look forward to developing it over the next two years.

I have been involved with the FCBG for 14 years now, since meeting members of the Exec at the Hay Festival in 2004 which led to us setting up the Reading CBG. At the time I was very keen to find out about new authors for my children to discover and I’ve stayed involved because I’m passionate about giving others the chances they had to read and share a love of reading with their families and friends.

I was lucky in having parents who loved books (a librarian and an English teacher!) so I had a good start myself. My children are now 26 and 23 but they have a new half brother, so I am enjoying finding new treasures for him to discover alongside old favourites.

Conference Programme
Rosanne Bartlett (Dudley CBG)

A rural childhood in Mid Wales encouraged my love of reading and with the absence of electricity and television, books were my entertainment. My favourite childhood book was, ‘Wind in the Willows’ and I still have my original copy 50 years on. With my own girls I loved reading the ‘Katie Morag’ books by Mairi Hedderwick.
My involvement with the FCBG has allowed me to meet many inspirational authors; choosing my favourite book has proved very difficult. However, ‘Gathering Light’ by Jennifer Donnelly and ‘How I Live Now’ by Meg Rosoff are in my Top Ten of contemporary books.


Group Liaison Officer and Child Protection Officer
  Hilarie Medler (Plymouth CBG)

Sharing a love of reading has been my joy and passion, both with my own children and all those that I have taught over the years. Finding different authors and enjoying their work, has been and still is, a never ending source of delight.

My connection with the FCBG began about ten years ago when I met Libby Allman and consequently started testing books in school for the Children’s Book Award. Since then I have regularly attended conferences, become more acquainted with the book testing process and got to know people who work so hard to promote a love of reading.

Since retiring from full-time teaching, I have been able to involve myself in organising book events for children, in and out of school, and, meet others who are equally enthusiastic about books and the role they can play in people’s lives.

As newly appointed Group Liaison Officer I look forward to engaging with the groups around the country, maybe helping set up some new ones and being there to offer ideas and support.

Jean Russell Project Coordinator    Julia Miller (Lincolnshire CBG)

I have been passionate about encouraging children to read since my own children were born. As a founder member of my local Children’s Book Group (Lincolnshire) my family have benefited enormously from being part of the Federation: meeting authors, participating in the Children’s Book Award testing and learning how to use books for escapism, for enjoyment and to develop empathy and understanding of our world.
I am always moved by that moment of epiphany when a child suddenly becomes inspired to read.
Reading out loud and sharing stories is a major element of this inspiration and one of my favourite children’s books is The Mousehole Cat by Nicola Bayley – a wonderfully illustrated traditional Cornish fisherman’s tale. I would regularly share with my daughter the danger, the storm, the return to home, family and safety – all the elements of a great story –and she still has illustrations from the book on her mantelpiece 21 years later, along with a wall full of books inspired by early exposure to the magic of the page.

Minutes Secretary
Karen Hellewell (Aldbourne CBG)

A home without books is like a house without windows.

After retiring from teaching English and organising school libraries I became a childen’s bookseller running The Well Wisher Bookshop in rural Wiltshire for ten years, which provided a golden opportunity to continue sharing my love of children’s literature with anyone who would listen.

Being Secretary of the Federation with its mixture of frustrations (mostly with technology) and joys (Conference, National Share-a-Story Month and other events) has let me share more stories with other readers, children and adults alike.

The first book to grab me was the Princess and Curdie by George Macdonald Fraser. I, too, wanted to climb the steps of the tower to see the old lady at the top sitting at her spinning wheel. Although my home looks like a farmhouse, it feels like a skyscraper with acres of shining glass.

Carousel
Louise Stothard (Oxford CBG)

I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t reading. As a child Saturday mornings were a highlight of the week when we visited the Library where I was able to chose three books to read – the only sadness was that I had read them by Sunday afternoon!

My bookshelves are groaning with books and it is difficult to choose a favourite – but A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley is special to me, as well as Margaret Mahy’s picture books and wonderful teenage fantasy novels. I love fantasy and The Dark is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper is on my classics shelf as well as books by Ursula Le Guin. They sit alongside all David Almond’s books, The New Policeman by Kate Thompson and Jennifer Donnelly’s A Gathering Light.

It has been a privilege to be a member of Oxford Children’s book group and I have loved seeing youngsters engaging with their favourite author or illustrator and had great fun sitting in on many a school author visit. It is amazing how a book will mean so much more to a youngster if you can say you have read it too or met the author or can just share your own love of reading.

Executive member    Tricia Adams

I cannot remember a time when I didn’t have a book ‘on the go’ – reading has been a lifelong passion, from reading under the bed clothes with a torch to, as an adult, declaring reading days and allowing myself the luxury of whole days lost in a book.

It helped that I was a career librarian so always had a ready access to books – and my career took me from public to government to school and school library services libraries before being appointed as Director of the School Library Association (from which I have very recently retired.)

I couldn’t name the one book that I would take to my desert island – I’d need a whole library!  Favourite authors include Philip Reeve, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Patrick Ness, David Almond, to name just a few. I also love to read illustrated books – and I’m a great believer that we never grow out of reading .

I am delighted to join the National Executive as it allows me to keep on exploring my passion of helping to get young people reading.

With thanks to Clare Zinkin who coordinates the blog and website.