Published: Wednesday, 5th July 2023

A Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup champion, Gold medal winning Paralympian and the Chairman of Gillingham Football Club have kicked off this year’s Summer Reading Challenge in Medway.

Joe Coyd, Charlotte Evans MBE and Brad Galinson visited the spectacular new Community Hub in Lordswood today (Wednesday, 5 July) to open the superb new facility and to launch the free reading challenge.

The theme of this year’s Summer Reading Challenge is Ready, Set, Read! which aims to keep children’s minds and bodies active over the school summer holidays, empowering young people to make new connections and unleash the power of play, sport and physical activity through reading.

From Saturday, 8 July until Saturday, 9 September, children can join a superstar team, with marvellous mascots, as they navigate a fictional summer obstacle course.

The Children’s Summer Reading Challenge for four to 11-year-olds, is to read six library books in the summer holidays and receive prizes for every book they read.

This year, the Reading Agency has teamed up with Nike who have specially commissioned a Rebel Girls book to celebrate this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup. The book celebrates female athletes and is aimed at both girls and boys aged seven to 12. Medway will receive 1,885 free books to give to children taking part in the Summer Reading Challenge. The books will be distributed on a first come first serve basis, whilst stocks last. Visit your local library or community hub to collect your copy.

Lordswood Community Hub in Kestrel Road has been dramatically transformed and has one of Medway’s largest dedicated children’s library spaces which will provide more opportunities for children and young people to participate in reading and other social activities, supporting Medway’s aspiration to become even more child-friendly

The improved children’s library features exciting spaces for children to take part in story times and play sessions or just enjoy a good read. It’s the perfect place for children and young people to take part in this year’s Summer Reading Challenge.

As well as accessing a huge range of library services at the new hub, which opened on Tuesday, 20 June, residents can get help with their blue badge and bus pass applications, book bulky waste collections and pay for council services such as rent and council tax.

As well as a hireable meeting space, public disabled toilet and baby changing facilities the new hub also has a free water bottle refill station as well as a new suite of computers for residents to use.

The hub has been designed to incorporate an autism-friendly design with a muted colour palette, clear signage, soft furnishings and an open, inviting layout. 

Residents of all ages can take part in a wide range of exciting clubs and activities at Lordswood Community Hub including Baby Bounce and Rhyme, Toddler Shake and Boogie and Pop in and Play sessions, as well as board game sessions, reader’s groups and a Knitting and Sewing Group. The new hub will also house surgeries and drop-ins from partners including MHS homes and Medway’s Public Health team.

The creation of Lordswood Community Hub also supports Medway Council’s climate change aspirations with efficient heating, LED lighting, more thermally efficient windows and solar panels.

Helping fuel children's imaginations

Cllr Harinder Mahil, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Heritage, Culture and Leisure, said: “The free Summer Reading Challenge is a fantastic way to help fuel children’s imaginations and encourage them to develop a love of reading. We were delighted that Joe, Charlotte and Brad were able to visit our new community hub in Lordswood to start the challenge. With one of Medway’s largest dedicated children’s library spaces, it would be a fantastic place for children and young people to take part in the Summer Reading challenge.

“We are also delighted to be welcoming residents into our amazing new community hub in Lordswood. Residents are now able to access more council services as well as our fantastic library services. Medway’s libraries and community hubs are at the very heart of our communities and we are proud that they also offer spaces where residents of all ages can socialise and take part in groups and clubs.

“Both the new hub and the Summer Reading Challenge provides more opportunities for children and young people to participate in reading and other social activities, which supports our aspiration for the area to become even more child-friendly.”

Fantastic facility 

Brad Galinson, Chairman of Gillingham Football Club, said: “It was a pleasure to visit the new Lordswood Community Hub and help launch this year’s Summer Reading Challenge. It is a fantastic facility and sparking the passion and imagination in young people through books is a worthy endeavour.”

Celebrating the power of play, games and sport

Karen Napier, Chief Executive of The Reading Agency, said: "We're delighted to be collaborating with Rebel Girls and Nike for this year's Summer Reading Challenge. It's fantastic to see the importance of reading high up on the agenda for such far-reaching, global brands. This generous gift will ensure even more children discover the Summer Reading Challenge this year, activating their imaginations and celebrating the power of play, games and sport."

On Monday, 10 July, The Flying Bazazi Brothers will perform Nearly There Yet at 4pm as part of the Summer Reading Challenge.

Lordswood Community Hub is open between 9am and 5pm on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays, from 2pm until 5pm on Tuesdays and between 10am and 4pm on Saturdays. The hub is closed on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Residents can also access the council’s digital library service, e-books and other online resources 24 hours a day, by visiting:

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