An Evening with Nicolette Jones

Report by Celia Livesey

The special guest speaker, Cllr Frank Pearson, the Mayor of Winchester, was accompanied by the Mayoress, Mrs Ann Pearson. The Mayor gave a fascinating talk on the history of Winchester. The office of Mayor of Winchester is one of the oldest mayoralties in England, dating back to the period when the city was the national capital. The current Mayor of Winchester, Cllr Frank Pearson is the 813th in the office. IMG_1216 (2)

During his term as Mayor, Cllr Pearson’s chosen charities will be The Magic Wand Appeal for the RHCH, the Felix Fund-the bomb disposal charity and Bishop’s Waltham Community Responders. The theme of the chosen charities is ‘A helping hand’.

After a tremendous opening of the new season in September with Baroness James and a terrific follow on with Marc Morris, historian and author in October, I knew it would be a difficult task to top the previous speakers. However, for November, I am delighted to report that the HWS have managed to pull off a ‘hat-trick’ with last night’s main speaker, Nicolette Jones, writer, journalist and broadcaster.

Nicolette gave a brief outline of her early years, and how her love of art and books was very much shaped by her father. As Children’s Books Reviewer for the Sunday Times, author of The Plimsoll Sensation, and co-author of Blooming Books, as well as Children’s Books Consultant for the Louise Allen-Jones Agency, Nicolette said that sometimes ‘good books slip through the net’.  A photo of her study, heavily carpeted with wall to wall books, demonstrated the problems all too clearly.     

IMG_1215 (2)The Plimsoll Sensation took ten years to research and write, but Nicolette said that the story of Samuel Plimsoll, British politician and social reformer, was such a wonderful story of human courage and determination that she had to write it. She went on to say that the story had everything – corruption, power struggles, politics and human misery, but the legacy of the ‘Plimsoll line’, (a line on a ship’s hull indicating the maximum safe draft), is something that all sailors today are grateful for.

Nicolette’s popularity was such that the question and answer session was the longest on record. The evening ended with a book signing by Nicolette, and also a surprise ‘free’ books donation for everyone from Crispin Drummond of P& G Wells Book Shop in Winchester.