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Librarian to the stars

Legislation in the 1850s allowed local authorities to set up free public libraries but it wasn't until the late 1880s that Jemima Durning, an unmarried lady in poor health gave £5,000 to set up a library in the Post Office building in her home town of Ascot and subsequently a Trust was created to manage it. She was from a very wealthy family and with her sister Edith, supported many charities including churches, schools, universities and many medical charities. In the early days, both men and women were encouraged to use the library facilities in daylight hours but only men in the evening.
Penny Hodgson joined the Durning Library in the 1970s as its head librarian, moving into the flat above with her new husband. She described it as a 'cosy community library' catering to the many ordinary as well as influential people of the area including Lady Pamela Vestey, the granddaughter of Dame Nellie Melba. Ascot Week was always a very interesting time with lots of royalty to be seen including the young princes Andrew and Edward playing in the gardens around the racecourse.
Penny and her family because firm friends with many of her patrons including Lady Vestey. She recalled many funny stories and caused much laughter. She chuckled as she said that one morning, a young couple had arrived to join the library describing the lady as strange, wearing what she described as a red curtain draped around her head and shoulders and the man as a very scruffy and unkempt individual. Despite her misgivings, she allowed them to join and it wasn't until later, when she saw them leave in a gleaming white Lamborghini that she realised that it was Rod Stewart and his wife. Penny's talk was extremely interesting and at times very funny.
Our September meeting is 'Think Jessica' (a personal tale of 'scams' & scam awareness) by Gail Devereux-Batchelor
The Glenfield WI meets on the third Tuesday of the month in St. Peter's Church Hall @ 7.30 and visitors are assured of a very warm welcome for a nominal fee of £3.00. Please check out our Website (just search 'Glenfield WI' on your computer) to find out more about us and what we do.

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