Rotary bookbench gets a new home

It was one of the most popular bookbenches on the Sitting With Jane bookbench trail – and now it has a new home.

Sitting With Jane was one of the most high-profile events in Hampshire in 2017 as the county hosted a series of events and activities to mark the 200th anniversary of the death of world-famous author Jane Austen, who spent the first 25 years of her life in Steventon near Basingstoke.

A ‘Wild in Art’ event, delivered by Destination Basingstoke and in association with Festival Place, Sitting With Jane was a public art trail featuring 24 specially-designed sponsored bookbenches which were on display in and around Basingstoke from June 17 until August 31 last year.

Basingstoke Deane Rotary Club sponsored, and subsequently bought, a bookbench, called ‘Jane Talk’. Created by artist Jenny Leonard, it was sited in a prime location in Festival Place shopping centre, in Basingstoke, and it was among the most-visited of all the bookbenches.

Twenty-two bookbenches were eventually auctioned off and 75 per cent of the £95,000 proceeds raised went to Ark Cancer Centre Charity – one of the local charities that is supported by Basingstoke Deane Rotary Club. Ark is raising £5million towards a much-needed local cancer treatment centre.

Now, the ‘Jane Talk’ bookbench has been given a new home in the reception area of the Radiotherapy Unit at Basingstoke hospital. The plan is to locate the bookbench in the new cancer treatment centre once this is built on the hospital site.

Basingstoke Deane Rotary Club members, including 2017-18 President Lindy Richardson, and past Presidents Alan Gibson and Paul Temple, who have all championed Ark, came along to present the bookbench to the Radiotherapy Unit team.

Lindy said: “We are all delighted that this lovely bookbench has a fitting home until it can be located in the new cancer treatment centre.

“Basingstoke Deane Rotary Club is a long-standing supporter of Ark Cancer Centre Charity, having raised over £30,000 for this good cause in recent years, and we were delighted to be involved in, and support, the successful Sitting With Jane project.”

Mark Jones, director of fundraising and communications at Ark Cancer Centre Charity, said: “The charity is grateful to Basingstoke Deane Rotary Club for their fantastic support. By being one of the sponsors, the club helped Sitting With Jane to happen, and by buying one of the bookbenches, the members played a key role in delivering an amazing result for the charity.

“Basingstoke Deane Rotarians have made a massive difference to Ark by raising funds for, and awareness of, the charity and the cancer treatment centre project, and it is great to see their bookbench installed in the reception area of the Radiotherapy Unit.”


Picture caption:

(sitting left to right) Holly Hall, radiotherapy unit manager, Basingstoke Deane Rotary President 2016-17 Alan Gibson, and Basingstoke Deane Rotary President 2017-18 Lindy Richardson. (back row standing from left) Sophie Jenkins, senior radiotherapist, Mark Jones, Ark Cancer Centre Charity director of fundraising and communications, Clare Williams, radiotherapy assistant, and Tim Dickinson, radiotherapist.