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Thornhill library: Star comics support Barnsbury primary school's crowdfunder at Union Chapel charity gig

PUBLISHED: 16:19 26 April 2019 | UPDATED: 11:56 29 April 2019

Children at Thornhill Primary School helped design plans for their new library. Picture: Thornhill Primary School

Children at Thornhill Primary School helped design plans for their new library. Picture: Thornhill Primary School

Archant

A string of internationally acclaimed comics supported the crowdfunding campaign to build a new library in "the heart" of Thornhill Primary School last night.

Provisional plans for Thornhill Primary School's new library. Picture: Thornhill Primary SchoolProvisional plans for Thornhill Primary School's new library. Picture: Thornhill Primary School

Adopted Islingtonian Rob Delaney lined-up alongside mega-performers like Russell Howard, Katherine Ryan and Jon Richardson at the packed Union Chapel Benefit gig – and hilarity, inevitably, ensued.

The Thornhill Road school has so far raised some £104,000 towards it's funding target for the “dream library” – and organisers hoped proceeds from the gig would help them smash their £150,000 target.

Speaking ahead of the event, headteacher Jenny Lewis told the Gazette: “It's great for the children of Thornhill because one of the things I have in my heart, and the governors do also, is this belief we have to find ways, despite austerity and central government cuts, to give children the best education we can. It's non–negotiable, so we are looking creatively at other revenue sources.”

She was effusive in her praise for a “fantastic community” of parents, including those involved with the school's charitable Thornhill Foundation, who she credited as a driving force behind the campaign. Money's been raised in a variety of ways, including through more affluent parents pledging the money they save on lunches via Islington's free school meals policy to the school – earning them the monikor: “meal donors”. The school's also received grant funding from Islington Council, and sizable donations from an array of sponsors, including its principle backer Islington Square: a 500,000 sq ft development off Upper Street due to open later this year. It's situated in the former North London Royal Mail sorting centre and includes 263 homes, of which 30 per cent are affordable, alongside retail units.

Thornhill Primary School headteacher Jenny Lewis. Picture: Thornhill Primary SchoolThornhill Primary School headteacher Jenny Lewis. Picture: Thornhill Primary School

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The plans have been in the pipeline for some time, and the creative process started with pupils being asked to design their ideal library using cardboard boxes. This crowdsourcing was gradually refined though meetings of the school council, before planning permission was sought and granted form the Town Hall last summer. Thornhill's new library will be incorporated into an unused part of an existing building.

School bosses then put the design job out to tender, before settling on Jan Kattein Architects in January.

Construction commenced over Easter and builders have already dug the prospective library's foundations and started laying concrete.

The school has “an ambitious plan money in the bank ready to complete the project by the end of the summer term,” said Ms Lewis.

She explained students will be able to access and borrow from the library throughout of the year, so that all her pupils, regardless of their socio-economic background, will always have access to a good book.

“What we want it to be is a library that the entire will be able to use throughout the year”, she added. “The community can get together there after school in a range of different ways.” Such as community events like the Cally Fest, book clubs, poetry events and debates.

You can donate here.

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