'An exciting process' - Teacher raising thousands to buy books for community

Kerri Clarke first opened Miss Kay's Bookstore last summer

Kerri Clarke first opened Miss Kay's Bookstore last summer - Credit: SUPPLIED

A supply teacher from north Norfolk who started up her own bookstore business during lockdown is helping to bring the gift of reading to the community she grew up in up. 

Kerri Clarke, 36, of Bodham, near Holt, first opened Miss Kay's Bookstore last summer. 

The former Sheringham High School and Paston College student was looking for something to do while schools were closed and thought that launching a new business would be “an exciting opportunity”. 

Now, as an independent Usborne book organiser, she is on a mission to raise £2,021 worth of books for different community groups through monthly community book pledges (CBP).

Kerri Clarke, of Miss Kay's Bookstore, delivering to a CBP recipient

Kerri Clarke, of Miss Kay's Bookstore, delivering to a CBP recipient - Credit: SUPPLIED

She said: “I approach different community groups that might like to receive some free Usborne items to see if they would like to take part.

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"When I have confirmed a beneficiary, I set up a JustGiving page for them and share it on social media, encouraging them to do the same so that we can get our mission message out far and wide. We then spend the month raising money through fundraising activities. 

“At the end of the month, I am able to give them a total for the amount we have raised. They can then create a wish list of items they’d like to spend their money on. Then I order and deliver the items. 

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“It's a very exciting process and I love the way that everyone chooses items specific to their setting or group. I also get to see so many beautiful books thanks to their choices.” 

So far, £464 has been raised and spent on books and activities which is the equivalent to more than 60 items. A further £156 will be spent on the June beneficiary once a wish list has been compiled. 

Kerri Clarke, of Miss Kay's Bookstore, delivering to a CBP recipient

Kerri Clarke, of Miss Kay's Bookstore, delivering to a CBP recipient - Credit: SUPPLIED

A number of charities and organisations have been helped, including Letheringsett Hall, St Michael’s Court, The Treehouse, YESU Tots group, and Norfolk Portage Service. Wells Community Hospital is the current beneficiary and will choose books to help with its carer and toddler groups. 

Miss Clarke has also been running a Little Library Project to provide Baby Basics West Norfolk with some baby books to go into their bundles, such as black and white book library sets. And recently she completed a sponsored barefoot 5k with a school friend, Emily Scarfe. 

Outside of her business, she volunteers for her local Good Neighbour Scheme helping to do shopping and deliveries for others, scrub and mask making, crocheting Covid hearts and ear guards, and writing to local residents to keep their spirits up. 

She added: “Earlier this year, I ran a project focussing on ‘Pick Me Up’ packs to cheer people up during the lockdown period. I had lots of support and was able to surprise a number of people who were all very grateful to have been thought of. 

Kerri Clarke, of Miss Kay's Bookstore, at Holt market

Kerri Clarke, of Miss Kay's Bookstore, at Holt market - Credit: SUPPLIED

“Going forward, I will be running a monthly drop-in session at The Treehouse in Holt where I can be available to talk to people about books and reading. 

"I’m really excited about being able to share my passion for reading with other people and to help anyone who may want advice or suggestions. 

“Showing some community spirit encourages people to form friendships and connections giving them a sense of belonging, being needed, and having others around them to call on. It staves off loneliness and gives people a purpose.   

“I feel strongly connected to my community and am thankful for where I live and the people I have in my life.” 

Kerri Clarke, of Miss Kay's Bookstore, at a pop-up stall

Kerri Clarke, of Miss Kay's Bookstore, at a pop-up stall - Credit: SUPPLIED

The first Treehouse drop-in session will take place on Monday, July 19, at 11.30am.

Miss Clarke will also be at various events during the coming months with donation buckets and a tombola. To help raise funds for the CBP visit Miss Kay’s Bookstore’s on Facebook to keep up to date with all of the events taking place.

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