As soon as I knew about the Save Wild Tigers organisation and their mission to raise awareness of the plight of the wild tiger, which is near extinction, I wanted to part of it. I knew it would be special and I was absolutely right.
When I walked into St Pancras Station yesterday the first thing I saw was a little boy in a tiger costume skipping along between his parents. When I looked around I could see tigers of all shapes and sizes all busily walking this way and that but somehow, even amongst all bustle of a busy station they didn't seem out of place. There was real excitment in the air - people stopped to look at displays like the tiger above (made from recycled items), they chatted to 'tiger helpers' and asked questions, they brought their children along to listen to stories being read, to create artwork, music, even decorate bisuits - it was absolutely brilliant!
Pat and I were there to be part of the Tiny Tigers weekend. We had been asked to read The Tiger's Tale at 3.30pm and hopefully sell some print versions of the story in order to raise some money. We made our way to the Reading Jungle - an area right in the middle of St Pancras that had been made comfortable with lots of tiger bean bags so that children could sit and listen to authors and celebrities read stories about tigers. I was lucky enough to arrive in time to hear Virginia McKenna read from Winnie the Pooh - that was a real treat, I felt like a kid myself!
I was so, so proud to see 'The Tiger's Tale' booklets on display in the front window of Foyles (yes, there's Grum posing in front of them!)
Pat and I were warmly met by Fiona and Sarah from the Clinton Partnership and Lisa from Foyles bookshop and before we knew it, it was time for us to start the reading! Children settled down on the tiger bean bags, their parents stood behind the barriers - all eyes were on us! I had the job of videoing Pat as he read (good luck with editing that Pat!) and of holding knitted Grum - a very important job. Pat explained to the children a little bit about Burly and Grum and then he was off!
The story was, I think, probably a bit longer than the others that had been read throughout the day but the children were as good as gold and seemed to love it. Pat is a brilliant narrator and made the characters come alive - I loved looking at the children's faces, they were absolutely captured!
After the reading I signed some copies of the print version of The Tiger's Tale (only 200 have been printed so they're real collector's copies!) and gave away some stickers and postcards to the children. It was a fabulous afternoon. Everyone who took part in the organisation of the event must be incredibly proud of what they have acheived, and I have no doubt that Tiger Tracks (which ends on 21 March) has raised awareness of the huge problems tigers are facing to thousands, if not millions, of people. Tigers need man's help or they will disappear forever and who wants to live in a world without tigers? I don't.
Anyone who buys Burly and Grum and The Tiger's Tale can rest assured that they too will be making a difference because all the profits will be going to Save the Wild Tiger*Pat and I had a brilliant time yesterday - thank you everyone!