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A bi-monthly public reading of David Copperfield has launched in Belfast in partnership with the children’s charity, Barnardo’s.
The John Hewitt Bar in Belfast will play host to public readings of Charles Dickens’ 1850 novel, David Copperfield, as part of the Dickens 2012 NI festival currently taking place in celebration of Dickens’ 200th birthday. Three chapters of the novel will be read by members of the public–who can sign up by donating £5 minimum to Barnardo’s–twice a month until November 22 when the 64th and final chapter will be read.
Some attendees at the first reading event were: Dr. Leon Litvack, who has already been interviewed by Toonari Post about his involvement with Dickens 2012 NI and who read aloud the first chapter; Anne Dawson, the Media and Communications Manager for Barnardo’s; and Maurice McCarthy and Stephen Scarth, who volunteered to read aloud the second and third chapters, respectively.
Dr. Litvack set the tone for this celebration of Dickens by dressing as a Victorian gentleman, complete with a top hat and waistcoat, and encouraged public participation at this and all future Dickens 2012 NI events. However, it was the presence of Ms. Dawson which served to remind audience members of the significance of supporting Barnardo’s and its mission statement to transform “the lives of vulnerable children across the UK through the work of our projects, our campaigning, and our research expertise.
We believe we can bring out the best in every child whether the issue is child poverty, sexual exploitation, disability, and domestic violence.”
Dickens’ novels are, in fact, known for addressing social issues concerning children and youth culture, with David Copperfield – one of Dickens’ most popular and adapted novels – in particular tracing the journey of a young boy from childhood to adulthood. Barnardo’s Director Lynda Wilson has stressed the importance of members of the public getting actively involved with Dickens 2012 NI and with supporting Barnardo’s work on a permanent basis.
Wilson explained, “Charles Dickens and our founder, Dr. Thomas Barnardo, had much in common. Both were philanthropists in nineteenth century England, and both shocked Victorian society by exposing poverty and exploitation – Dickens through the social commentary in his novels, and Dr. Barnardo by starting homes for children affected by poverty.”
She continued, “Today, Barnardo’s as a children’s charity carries on the legacy of Dr. Barnardo’s work. According to official figures, there are 100,000 children in Northern Ireland living in poverty, and one in five leave primary school with below standard literacy and numeracy skills. Barnardo’s is working to address that, but it is only with the support of organizations like Dickens 2012 NI that we can really make a difference.”
The second installment of the David Copperfield read-a-thon will take place on Thursday, February 23, at the John Hewitt Bar in Belfast. Admission is free.