To commemorate the inspirational life of Jane Slowey, one of The Letterpress Project‘s founding members, the project has produced a collection of original short essays called “The Dream I Held in My Hands“. Contributors reflect upon the books that inspired them to become readers.
Jane Slowey: An Appreciation
In October 2017 The Letterpress Project lost one of its founder members and I lost a personal friend of almost 30 years. She died from a disease she fought off once but couldn’t keep at bay a second time and she died too young, with, I’m sure she’d have said, far too much left to do and
I first met Jane back in the 1990s when she was an elected Labour Councillor in Birmingham and I worked as an officer for the same authority. When she became the Chair of Community Affairs (could she have had a more appropriate role?), we worked closely together and from that time onwards, wherever Jane went on to work, we would find time to meet, talk and engage in a bit of plotting and planning. We both loved the challenge of a new project and this would be a constant link between us.
What I always admired about Jane was her determination to get things done and her unbreakable belief in the values of social justice and community. Whenever we came up with an idea for a new project or a different way to do something that would further these progressive values, she always followed it through and was untiring in trying to make them happen.
Within the voluntary sector in which she developed her sparkling career, this ability to think laterally and get things done was almost universally recognised and appreciated – you’ll find many such tributes to Jane online from her former colleagues and the award of a CBE and two honorary doctoral degrees attest to the respect in which she was held. Almost everyone who spent time with
Jane would use a common description of the experience – inspirational.
Our plotting and planning sessions over coffee and cake nearly always dissolved into sharing and comparing the books we’d been reading that had grabbed our imagination. One afternoon I floated the notion of a new community book project to promote the reading of real, physical
books that we both loved so much – and she was immediately on board.
Jane brought her enthusiasm and skills to the Letterpress Project and we were all enriched by her contributions. Whilst our loss is grievous, the loss to her family is incalculable and I hope this book, a tribute to Jane’s ability to inspire those she met, goes a little way to filling the gap she left behind. We asked people to honour Jane’s memory by thinking about which books inspired their imaginations – and as you’ll see the response was exceptional.
Chair, The Letterpress Project
And a word from Jane’s family
We all have great memories of reading with my mum and sometimes she used to ring me up just to tell me how wonderful a book she had just finished was. She loved reading contemporary fiction, particularly by women, and she was also an avid crime reader, particularly PD James and Ian Rankin. In addition to this she read a lot in French and Italian and loved the Inspector Montalbano books. Reading was a massive part of her life and she was great at recommending good books and making astoundingly astute choices of books as presents.”
A strictly limited edition of the book has been printed which can be ordered by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org (free + p&p of £4). You will also be able to read and download a copy of the book from the Letterpress Project website: www.letterpressproject.co.uk.