WHEN children's author Anna James learnt about a County Durham school's plan to turn an old train into a library and wellbeing centre she just had to visit.

So this week, whilst travelling the length and breadth of the UK to promote the latest instalment of her Pages & Co book series, she stopped off at Kirk Merrington Primary School, near Spennymoor.

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School secretary Lesley Smith came up with the idea of converting old train carriages into a wellbeing centre and library.

The old library had been turned into a classroom to accommodate the rise in pupil numbers and the books were moved onto shelves in the corridor.

The school worked with Network Rail to get two disused pacer carriages, which now sit on tracks on the school field waiting to be transformed.

Fundraising is ongoing for the 'Dare to Dream' project, which will include solar panels to power the train library to be used for education, a wellness hub, and imaginative play.

Anna said: "I visit lots of schools and when I heard about Kirk Merrington's train library project I had to see it for myself, it is genius idea and so exciting."

Ms James, a former school librarian, led an assembly and writing activities with pupils – featuring a cat called Unicorn –and told children how gets the inspiration for her stories.

She said: "I get lots of my ideas from travelling, from places I've been like Paris and Washington DC, and the Pages & Co series has a magical train, the Quip, powered by imagination.

"It feels just like Kirk Merrington's train, which was powered by Lesley and the school's imagination.

"It is going to be incredible.

"When working with the children I share tips but also encourage them to dream, to imagine, to write, to consider author as a job or to at least learn, escape and explore by being creative and reading and writing."

The writer, originally from Ponteland and now based in London, offered a donation towards the project and said she is keen to return once it is finished.

Mrs Smith said she was thrilled the Dare to Dream train library is already a catalyst for events like the author's visit which will broaden children's minds and experiences.

She said: "It is brilliant, we've had amazing support and everyone is still very excited about it.

"We're looking forward to this time next year when it should all be done and ready to use."

Anna's fourth book in the Pages & Co series, The Book Smugglers, was published by HarperCollins in September.

For more about the author and her books, visit anna-james.com


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