You helped to Start a New Story for Birkenhead students

start a new story

Earlier this year, Birkenhead High School Academy’s drive to raise funds for new books for Junior pupils raised more than £11,000 in just a month thanks to fantastic community support.

The school have recently produced a short video telling the whole story and to thank all those who contributed – watch it here:

Birkenhead High School Academy smashed its own targets for a new book drive. The Start A New Story campaign was launched in early February by BHSA as a simple wish list for new books for Junior school pupils and students in Year 7 and 8. The initial target of £6,000 was achieved within a matter of days thanks to an outpouring of support. By the time the appeal closed, more than £11,000 had been raised from more than 200 donors including parents, staff and alumnae across the GDST family of schools.

“Start a New Story has grown from a simple wish list of books into a joyous celebration of how reading can transform young lives”

Reading has always been a high priority at BHSA. The school has previously relied on the efforts of its Parents’ Association to help buy non-curriculum books for the girls but with the pandemic putting a stop to their fundraising activities, along with the closure of public libraries during lockdown, there was concern that students simply weren’t able to access new books and benefit from the joy that comes with reading.

So, the school launched the Start a New Story campaign. They created a wish list of books titles for each year group and the Principal of BHSA, Rebecca Mahony, wrote to parents, alumnae and members of the BHSA and wider GDST communities for donations. The idea was that supporters would give a minimum of £10 to fund the purchase of one book, and donors were invited to leave a message on a special card inside the book with their thoughts on the pleasures of reading to inspire younger readers.

The Start a New Story campaign also supported local booksellers. BHSA placed an order for nearly 700 books with a local Wirral independent bookshop, Linghams Booksellers in Heswall. Linghams have been longstanding supporters of BHSA and worked in partnership with the school on the campaign.

Donations weren’t only financial ones. GDST alumnae authors such as Jane-Anne Hodgson arranged to have copies of their books sent to the school.

start a new story

Rebecca Mahony, Head of BHSA, said:  

“Reading has always been close to our hearts at BHSA. Due to the current Covid situation, however, we were really missing the interaction and momentum of our normal reading initiatives throughout the school, such as our Reading Discovery Programme. The Start A New Story campaign started as a simple wish list of books for all of our Junior School and Year 7 and 8 children to enjoy, no matter where they were and no matter what their circumstance, but due to the amazing generosity of the GDST family network, it has transformed into a joyous celebration of how reading can transform young lives. The powerful personal messages to accompany each book donated will stay with our students forever and I am incredibly grateful to all involved.

Sue Porter, owner of Linghams Books, said:

“When Mrs Mahony approached Linghams to be part of this fabulous idea I was absolutely thrilled . Obviously owning a bookshop, we love to encourage reading, but this has gone above and beyond.  It is inspiring to see the support The Start a New Story project has received , and the personal messages are wonderful. Huge congratulations and thank you for letting Linghams be part of this adventure!”