Last weekend, some of our reading helper volunteers were able to attend the Queen's Reading Room Festival at Hampton Court Palace, as guests of our Patron, Her Majesty, Queen Camilla.

The annual festival from Her Majesty Queen Camilla’s charity gathers some of the world’s best authors, actors, experts and literature lovers for a day celebrating books with the stunning castle and grounds of Hampton Court Palace as the backdrop.

This year’s programme saw Miriam Margolyes take to the main stage in one of the Palace’s atmospheric Tudor courtyards to express her love and deep knowledge of Charles Dickens; US actor Clarke Peters and Olivier winning actress Dame Harriet Walter joined Helena Bonham Carter on the main stage for a very special edition of William Sieghart’s Poetry Pharmacy and the cast of Operation Mincemeat performed songs from their sell-out show, followed by a Q&A with the playwright. 

The Queen offered some of our reading helpers the opportunity to attend the event, in appreciation of their incredible work and commitment to Coram Beanstalk.


Sarah, a reading helper in London attended three sessions at the festival and said it was a high calibre, well organised event:

'What the Dickens!' with Miriam Margolyes was especially entertaining. The additional treat of closing Hampton Court for the day meant we had the grounds to ourselves. It was wonderful to explore again. I hadn't been since I was a child and will definitely go back. Please pass on my thanks for a wonderful day.

And Deb, another reading helper from London also asked us to pass on her thanks:

Thank you SO much for the tickets! I went to two sessions - one featuring the musical Operation Mincemeat and one a conversation with three crime writers, Ann Cleese, Lee Child and Ian Rankin. They were both very well moderated and gave the audience the chance to ask questions. Hampton Court was a fabulous setting. What a lovely bonus for us volunteers!

Many more of our volunteers told us they had booked tickets and we hope that they all enjoyed it as much as Deb and Sarah clearly did! We remain incredibly grateful to our Patron for her continued support of Coram Beanstalk and for everything she does to promote reading.