Patrons, Volunteers & Trustees

Jenny Agutter

Jenny Agutter was born in Taunton in the English West Country. The daughter of a British army officer, she spent her childhood visiting and living in many different countries, including Germany, Singapore and Cyprus. Back in England, she trained at Elmhurst Ballet School and at the age of eleven was cast as a young dancer in Walt Disney’s film Ballerina. A number of television and film roles followed.

Jenny’s keen interest in photography led to the publication of a book of photographs and words in which she gives a personal view of LA and London. Snap was published in 1983 by Quartet.

Among Jenny’s many audio recordings of books are The Secret Garden (winner of the Spoken Word Award for best children’s book), Music and Silence, Bad Blood and Mrs Robinson's Disgrace. 

Jenny's most recent film appearance is in Avengers Assemble released in 2012. She is currently playing Sister Julienne in the hit BBC TV Drama Call the Midwife - recently voted the Best Drama of the 21st Century.

Christina Gabbitas Author & Director

Poet, Voiceover and Storyteller

Christina Gabbitas is an award winning English children’s author, poet, storyteller and voiceover artist. She is best known for her rhyming books. Growing up she loved to read poetry and rhymes. She started writing after having her own children and particularly focussed on stories which would help them overcome their fears and fears that she had, had as a child.

Books include the Felicity Fly series Triangular Trev and safeguarding book Share Some Secrets Share Some Secrets has been endorsed by the NSPCC and Barnardo's Free copies are in the NSPCC Library. The story is being brought to life by animation with Sheffield Hallam University students and will be a free resource for children, parents and teachers, launched October 2017.

Christina set up a national poetry initiative in 2013 that has now encouraged over 17,000 children to 'have a go' at writing poetry, picking up The Peoples Book Prize Dame Beryl Bainbridge Award in 2015. Details can be found here

For all her collective work aimed at helping and encouraging children, Christina picked up the Sue Ryder, Yorkshire Women of Achievement in Education, May 2016. Also a People's Book Prize Finalist for four consecutive years from 2013-2017.

Twitter: @christigabbitas

Michael "Mickey" Bradley

Michael "Mickey" Bradley (born 13 August 1959) is the bassist for the The Undertones. Bradley is also a radio producer for BBC Radio Foyle and presented a one-hour programme on Radio Ulster: "After Midnight with Mickey". The show featured tracks from the new wave/punk era. Bradley now presents a show titled "The Mickey Bradley Record Show" which airs from 8pm to 10pm every Tuesday night on BBC Radio Ulster.

In 2016, Bradley wrote a book called Teenage Kicks: My Life As an Undertone. A Peoples Book Prize Finalist in 2017.

Bradley also shares his birthday with former Undertones frontman Feargal Sharkey.

Bradley was born in Derry, County Londonderry Northern Ireland, and is married to Elaine Duffy. Together they have four children: Alice (22), Frank (21), May (19) and Jim (10).[3] Frank is in a jazz fusion rock band 'The Kashmir Krows' in which he plays drums and is the father to twin girls (4) Roxanne and Gucci.

Dr Stephen Fear

Ambassador and Entrepreneur in Residence at the British Library from 2012 to 2016

Dr Stephen Fear  is an English entrepreneur and businessman with an established property empire and business interests in many industries, such as green technology, I.T. care homes, hotels and manufacturing. Stephen was born in Bristol and brought up on a Council Estate in a suburb of the city. He was the youngest of four children, having three older half-sisters.. Having held a very poor attendance record at school – Fear is essentially self-educated through his lifelong love of reading.

Ric Lumb


Ric is a freelance children's book illustrator and also a graphic artist for video games. From an engineering background, originally working in the drawing office of a manufacturing firm, Ric spent his spare time drawing cartoons and making video games. Studying graphic design and professional cartooning at college, Ric eventually made a move into the creative industries.

Ric has worked on very varied projects in his capacity as a freelance designer, working for clients like AOL on their games and has also produced video games and comic books of his own with a strong emphasis on his cartoony style. More recently he has been given the opportunity to illustrate children's story books written by award winning children's author Christina Gabbitas as well as volumes of her Children's Poetry initiative books written by school children. Ric has now self-published some of his own work through Amazon. "A Knight Before Christmas" and a picture book aimed at younger children called "I Want Puppy"

For more of Ric's work please visit

Illustrator Spotlight

Ursula Hurst (illustrator)

Read More

Upcoming Festivals


Jan-Apr - An invitation to capture the primary school nation

26 - 30 Mar - Selby Children's Literature Festival FREE

1-31 Mar - Essex Book Festival

21-31 Mar - Huddersfield Literature Festival

14-24 Mar - Bourneville Bookfest

30 Mar - 7 Apr - Oxford Literary Festival

7 April - Between the Lines Sheffield

28 Apr - 5 May - Stratford-Upon-Avon Literary Festival

18 - 22 Jun - Blackburn Literature Festival - FREE

Find out when the next Reading Festival is taking place on the full festivals listing page

View Listings