Sue Bastone, SLA Chair of Trustees, shares her closing speech from the Presidential handover. :: NEWS
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Sue Bastone, SLA Chair of Trustees, shares her closing speech from the Presidential handover.

16 December 2020 Share

Sue closed the event, which saw Chris Riddell stand down and Richard Gerver take on the role, this is a written form of her thoughts at the time..

A week ago a wonderful evening was had by all at the President handover.  A big thank you as always to Alison and the team and Bev for arranging everything so seamlessly.

I was glad to be able to say a few words at the close which gave me the opportunity to thank both Chris and Richard on behalf of all our members and also on behalf of the SLA Trustees.

We have been incredibly fortunate to have Chris Riddell as our President for the last three years.  We have all looked forward to our copy of The School Librarian dropping through the letterbox and seeing the latest beautiful cover illustration from Chris.  We are so glad he has agreed to continue this and remain as a Patron.  You can now buy a set of 10 of these artworks suitable for framing or use as posters so do treat yourself and support the SLA Patrons' Appeal at the same time.  

It has been a joy to attend events with Chris and though, sadly this year they have been virtual, he has always added extra excitement and pleasure.  Watching him draw and talk with his sense of humour and ability to catch the essence of a moment is priceless and I am sure I am not alone in appreciating the intimacy of it.  I am personally a fan of Chris’s illustration, particularly his collaborations with Neil Gaiman.  Indeed, Chris’s cartoons and tweeted sketches have kept me sane in a crazy world over the last few months and before.  We thank him sincerely for all he has done for the SLA, whether it be attending our weekend courses and other events, in person or virtually and of course for all the drawing, TSL covers, SLA Owls and more.  His passion for libraries and reading for pleasure echoes our own and his encouragement and support has meant so much to us all.  Thank you Chris.

So now we move into a new era, in many ways. This has been a challenging year for us all and, not least  for school librarians.  The SLA team has worked hard to enhance its offer to members online and I believe they have excelled themselves – webinars, webcasts, online training and events we have all enjoyed.  We are all too aware of how much support our school librarians need to do their job effectively and prove the fantastic impact they have in their schools.

So we are absolutely delighted that our new President, Richard Gerver, will help and support the SLA at the highest levels in its mission to prove the need for school libraries. The huge challenges faced by our young people this year have made it even more vital that we fight for every child’s right to have access to a school library and a school librarian to advise them in many ways, whether on what to read, how to access information safely and wisely or how to improve their study skills.  What better way can there be to ‘level up’?

Richard has been described as one of the most inspirational leaders of his generation.  As a former headteacher, he is passionate about education and inspiring people of all ages to be the best that they can be.  His three-word inspiration took my breath away and puts into words the hopes we have for our young people: Living – that they experience the joy and potential of life; Learning – to help them dream, broaden their horizons and turn those dreams into aspirations; and Laughing which needs no explanation.  Richard’s optimism for the future and his hopes for a human renaissance after a very dark period is infectious.  We are delighted he has accepted our invitation to be the next SLA President and are excited about what the next few years will hold.  Thank you Richard.

Chris and Richard are two very different people and will bring different skills and talents to the President’s role.  However, they have two very important things in common:  they both have a great sense of humour which makes every event they attend uplifting and they share a passion for libraries which unites us all.

It just leaves me to thank everyone once again for attending our event and for supporting the SLA.  Please share the news and encourage non-members to join the SLA.  We wish you all a safe and merry Christmas and let’s hope we can meet up in person in 2021.  Best wishes to you all.