Samuel Fox's literacy legacy

When families take to five picturesque parks in Nottingham for the exciting StoryParks project this summer they will be following in the footsteps of a local man who left a literacy legacy.

As they descend on the Forest Recreation Ground, Highfields Park, Vernon Park, Wollaton Hall and Deer Park and Woodthorpe Grange from 29 July and 31 August their aim will be fun in the sun (hopefully!), themed around storytelling and books.

There can be little doubt historical Nottingham figure Samuel Fox would have been proud of the initiative - the Quaker and philanthropist was passionate about helping people achieve the highest literacy levels they were capable of, even setting up the first UK adult school in Nottingham in 1798 which he staffed and maintained.

It’s also fitting that we, The Nottingham, are partnering with Nottingham City Council for the event as Fox later founded the building society (1849). This year we celebrate 170 years of following his ethos of helping people to save money and have a roof over their heads.

Chief Executive David Marlow and the team at the society remain just as dedicated to Fox’s principles as always, and are delighted to be involved with StoryParks.

David said: “We are thrilled to be supporting Nottingham City Council to help the StoryParks project come to life.

“Sharing the story of our founder, Samuel Fox, and the positive impact he had on the lives of people in Nottingham, by encouraging reading and literacy seems a very fitting tribute in our 170th year. Our contribution is a demonstration that 170 years on, we remain committed to supporting the communities we operate in.

“Our society was built on positive social purpose and today we provide products and services built on advice to help our members strive for a better financial future, which numeracy and literacy skills are integral to. We hope the residents of Nottingham and beyond enjoy the StoryParks activities this summer.”

Professional storyteller Nicky Rafferty, who hails from Nottingham and who recently visited our Head Office to engage the team in the art of storytelling with a series of workshops, is also passionate about the legacy of Samuel Fox.

Nicky said: “When Samuel Fox died in 1868, he was described by the Nottinghamshire Guardian as the most respected and well known man in the city, yet today little is known of his character and legacy.

“What he did was truly inspirational, in terms of his desire to improve adult literacy levels and in turn give Nottingham people much better life prospects, as well as helping them to own their own homes and so much more besides.

“The city - all of us - should feel very proud of Samuel Fox and The Nottingham should feel especially proud because they still operate according to the ethos and values of their founder. It’s a privilege and a pleasure to have this opportunity to tell his story.”

StoryParks carries the slogan ‘A summer of imagination’, and as well as reading activities attendees will have the chance to take part in arts and crafts, music, Park Ranger sessions, nature trails and more.

Work has begun on transforming each venue and there’ll even be some interesting sculptures in place in each park that will be well worth seeing and taking a selfie next to!

Meanwhile, to get everyone in the mood for StoryParks, we are keen to find out what your favourite book is. David Marlow’s number one choice is Made in America, the autobiography of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton. His favourite book as a child was Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Find us on Facebook or Twitter and tell us which book you most like reading and why. 

Nicky Rafferty2

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