In March 2022 we launched the Literacy Lab inside the former school of ex-poet laureate Ted Hughes. The lab is the new home of Doncaster Stories, helping us to empower even more children through literacy and it's part of a wider project to transform Mexborough Business Centre into a self-sustaining art space.
Children from Montagu Academy attended the launch event along with some VIP guests. Year 4 took part in a series of workshops including poetry writing with Laura Mucha and a draw-a-long with illustrator Chris Mould, who created the artwork for The Iron Man and painted the huge mural that is the centre piece of the Literacy Lab. The children also performed an original poem for the Mayor of Doncaster Ros Jones, Carol Hughes – the Widow of Ted Hughes, funders from Arts Council England, staff from Faber Children’s Books, and our CEO Jonathan Douglas.
Thanks to Ikea and Faber Children's Books, the Liteacy Lab also has a fully furnished library for children and visitors to enjoy. Rumor has it that there will soon be copies of the book that originally inspired Ted Hughes to fall in love with reading - Tarka the Otter by Henry Williams, which he enjoyed so much he never actually returned it! There's also a secret mission assigned exclusively to young visitors to find The Iron Man's missing body parts which have been stolen by some pesky seagulls that have flown off around the building; find them hovering near our info boards, solve the puzzles, and piece the metallic hero back together. The free resource can be collected from reception, or you can download it here.
This is the first time that Doncaster Stories has had a space to call our own and we can't wait to host many more exciting events for local children.
Phil Sheppard, Senior Project Officer for Doncaster Stories, said: “The Literacy Lab is an invaluable addition to Doncaster Stories and I can’t wait to see more young people using the space. We want children to discover that literacy isn’t just something for the classroom, but rather that literacy is a powerful tool for creative expression and includes everything from reading to performance.”
Jonathan Douglas, CEO of the National Literacy Trust, said: “This project is a brilliant example of exactly what our local campaigns are for – putting literacy on the agenda of local partners, leading innovation, seamlessly linking literacy and literature, and developing initiatives in the communities which deserve and need them most. Our partnership with Mexborough Business Centre is a fantastic development, and it was just such a happy day! I loved every minute of it.”