In this 60 second with… meet Susan, one of our wonderful Reading Friends volunteers in Leicestershire.

What is your favourite thing about Reading Friends?

I enjoy getting to know new people and the group is a lovely, relaxed place for people to chat in an inclusive and welcoming environment. Different people come along each week. It’s been interesting to learn about the wide range of interests and experiences of the group’s members.

Why did you get involved with Reading Friends?

I retired from a busy full-time job and wanted to do something worthwhile to serve people in the local community. Initially I volunteered to deliver books to people who are housebound. Then I was approached to become a Reading Friend as the librarian was looking for volunteers to help set up the new group.

What do you like to read?

I enjoy reading a variety of genres and I’m always excited to find a new author. I particularly enjoy crime thrillers and autobiographies. Increasingly, I find myself drawn to books that have a positive impact on how I think and behave. At the moment, I’m reading books about the impact of plastic on the planet and the changes we can make to reduce the amount of single-use plastic.

What is the best book you’ve ever read?

That’s a really tough question! Until recently I would have said ‘Wuthering Heights’ which I fell in love with as a teenager. Then a couple of years ago I read ‘My Sister Milly’ written by Gemma Dowler. This is the harrowing account of what Milly Dowler’s family went through following her murder. It’s a story of love, truth and courage and I found their story both shocking and inspirational. The book changed my perspective on life and helped me to adopt a more positive attitude.

If you could try, or learn, something new, what would it be?

I have a compact digital camera and would like to become better at producing great photographs, ideally without having to buy lots of heavy lenses! I think I need an expert to take me under their wing as I definitely learn by doing.

What is one thing you couldn’t live without?

That is an easy question – my radio. I listen mostly to Radio 2 or Radio 4. However, I always listen to the Chris Evans Breakfast Show on Virgin Radio as that gets my day off to a really positive start! When Leicester City is playing and I can’t get to the match, I listen to the commentary on Radio Leicester.

Where is your favourite place to be?

As my family don’t live locally, I’m probably at my happiest when we’re all together, wherever that is (Leicester, London, Dorset or Bristol). If I’m just choosing a place to be, it would probably be on the North Yorkshire coast with the sea on one side and beautiful rolling countryside on the other. A coastal footpath (running from Ravenscar to Robin Hood’s Bay) with my family and dog would be perfect!

What place do you think is a hidden gem?

A real hidden gem in the Leicestershire countryside is Launde Abbey. It’s surrounded by hills with sheep grazing freely and is very peaceful. We’ll often go for a walk there and the sense of calm and tranquillity is overwhelming. It’s beautiful at any time of the year, but particularly when a carpet of snowdrops covers the ground.

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