Constellation of prizes at ‘planet Cronk-y-Berry’

‘Planet Cronk-y-Berry School’ was the location for the Space Hop Summer Reading Challenge prize presentation by the Mayor of Douglas Councillor Ritchie McNicholl and the Mayoress Mrs Julie McNicholl.

An astronomical 129 children completed the space travel-themed challenge organised by the Henry Bloom Noble Library and sponsored by Scottish Widows where children are required to read at least six books and visit the library a minimum of three times during the summer holidays.

As part of the challenge six space-related workshops and activity sessions were held at the library, including one attended by the Mayor who joined the young Space Hoppers and helped make a flying saucer.

At the awards event held on Saturday October 2, Councillor McNicholl congratulated the children on their achievement and presented them with their certificates, medals and space posters. He also thanked sponsors Scottish Widows and Strand Cleaners who donated the book review prizes, for their continued support and commitment.

Borough librarian Jan Macartney said: ‘Not only did we have 129 children completing the Space Hop, but also dozens of children writing fabulous book reviews, entering the space quiz and the “Hunt the Character” competition. There were also some excellent submissions in our “Design the Lunar Library” flag competition.

‘In addition, the weekly Space Hop workshops led by our senior library assistant Shirley Moore assisted by Alison Crellin and supported by staff from Scottish Widows were extremely well attended. Over the six sessions the children had great fun making astronauts, space rockets, planets, robots, mobile solar systems, space masks and aliens in flying saucers.’

The challenge’s space theme was developed by guest speaker Howard Parkin, chairman of the Isle of Man Astronomical Society and Manx National Heritage’s public service manager. Mr Parkin underlined the key role the Island was playing in the space industry and recalled the occasion in October 2009 when he hosted a live link between the international space station and the Manx Museum that provided school children from around the Island an opportunity to speak directly to astronaut Nicole Stott via a two-way video link.

Presenting the book review prizes Strand Cleaners’ managing director John Hellowell referred to the high standard of entries and said the company was pleased to be offering its support ‘because children are our future’.

Scottish Widows’ Juan Clarke said the company was proud to be sponsoring the Summer Reading Challenge for the third year in succession (previously under the CMI brand name) and that together with his volunteer colleagues and young son he had had ‘great fun’ helping the library team at the Space Hop workshops.

Intergalactic inspiration was not confined solely to Space Hoppers. Council staff also launched into action in an in-house competition to decorate several model space ships left over from one of the activity sessions. Their efforts were judged by the children who attended the awards presentation, resulting in the design duo of bereavement services officer Sarah Statham and Ian Moyer from the Borough Treasurer’s department being declared winners with their unique confection – a sweet-encrusted spaceship. All Council staff entering the competition made donations to the Mayoress’s charity appeal fund which was boosted further by a public collection at end of the awards presentation.

Mrs Macartney ended by saying: ‘The real “stars” of the challenge are not only the children but also the parents without whose support and enthusiasm for encouraging their children’s reading Space Hop would never “take off”.’
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