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Trio of 100-year-old readers still love their books from Torquay Library!

Posted on 05 Jan 2024

Three regular Torquay Library customers enjoyed their 100th birthdays in 2023 – and are still voracious readers.

The three female library members now have their books delivered through the Books on Wheels and Good Neighbours schemes offered by Libraries Unlimited, the charity that runs libraries in Devon and Torbay.

One of the trio, Alice Russell, celebrated her 100th birthday on 3rd December 2023. She now lives in a care home in Paignton but was born in Buckfastleigh. Alice worked as an Air Raid Precautions volunteer during WWII as well as on local farms. She married husband Reg in 1946 after he was released from being a prisoner of war in Hong Kong, going on to celebrate their 58th anniversary before he passed away. The couple had two daughters, and one of them, Jane Ledgerwood-Barr, ensures her Mum has a regular supply of books.”

“As soon as we could read as children she took us to Buckfastleigh Library,” said Jane. “During Covid, Torquay Library kept us going of Ellie Dean’s Cliffehaven wartime series – large print ones for Mum. Twenty of them! The library would reserve them for us and pass them to me over a table at the entrance. I bought the staff biscuits and chocolates to say thank you, and I actually sent a message to Ellie on her website thanking her! Mum also likes Anna Jacobs and other romance stories, although we have to have paperbacks now as she finds hardbacks difficult to hold. But she still sits down every day to read, and she Facetimes me on her iPad. Her room in the care home overlooks the Bay and she has an app on it that shows her which boats are out there. She’s incredible really.”

Two other regular customers at Torquay Library have also celebrated their 100th birthdays in the past year.

Sarah Kennedy, Library Supervisor at Torquay Library, said: “Our team was amazed to find out these three ladies were all 100 years old in the same year – and all still regular library users!”

“We take real pleasure in keeping our readers reading and have a number of services to help. There’s large print books, audiobooks and digital downloads if they can use a tablet and can make the font bigger on the screen. Our Home Library system, known as Books on Wheels in Torbay, has friendly volunteers dropping off a selection of specially-chosen books that we know they will love once a month. And our Good Neighbours scheme means friends and family can reserve, collect and return books on the reader’s own library card.”

“It’s lovely knowing these women are all still avid readers, and I personally have no doubt that reading is incredibly good for you and keeps everyone young!”

More on the Books on Wheels, Home Library Service and Good Neighbours schemes available in Devon and Torbay.

Libraries Unlimited believes…

…in the unlimited potential of library services to make a positive difference to people’s lives and communities through a shared love of reading and access to high quality information and facilities.