A Newport couple who first met at a library in 1984 and who will finally tie the knot this year, some 28 years later, have won first prize in the Stori Sydyn / Quick Reads St Dwynwen’s Day competition.
A short film of their love story along with those of the other four finalists was shown as part of a special launch event at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay. The first prize is a bundle of books and a romantic break for two at Portmeirion in north Wales.
Alex Jarvis and Phil Harries thank books for making their lives complete. As Alex says, "We met at Christmas 1984 in the local branch library. It was my first week as a branch librarian and Phil walked into the library.
"We spent the next six months chatting, he would give me obscure railway book requests with half titles or without authors and I would have to dig deep to try and find what he was looking for. Our first date 6 months later was to Didcot railway centre!
"As in the title of the novel, Books Do Furnish a Room by Anthony Powell, at home we have bookshelves everywhere, all organized by subject or author. As a librarian I can’t help it! We sniff out bookshops at home and abroad. We also can’t help popping into libraries wherever we are in the world. We have visited libraries in Alaska and Hawaii and spotted mobile libraries in St Lucia and Jamaica on our travels. When go on cruises, we like to leave books behind us for the enjoyment of others.
"We are still as passionate about books as we are about each other and twenty eight years later we are getting married in February 2012."
Delyth Humphreys, Head of Children’s Books and Reading Promotion at the Welsh Books Council, said: "The Quick Reads / Stori Sydyn campaign is gaining momentum all the time and encouraging thousands of people across Wales to give reading a go, many of whom may never have read a book before. Congratulations to Alex and Phil on their win and thanks to all who entered as it was fantastic to hear the heart-warming book-related romantic stories. The shortlisted finalists came from Newport, Tenby, Machynlleth, Ammanford and Penarth. It’s clear that reading has indeed sparked a few romances across Wales!"
Since its launch in 2006, the Quick Reads / Stori Sydyn initiative has distributed over 3 million books through supermarkets, bookshops, libraries, workplaces, prisons, colleges, projects for travellers and the homeless and many more outlets. The books have introduced thousands of new people to the pleasures of reading, and have encouraged existing readers to read more. They have reached some of the most struggling and economically deprived people across the UK and Ireland, helping to improve access to reading and transforming lives.