13 October 2019 – READING GAOL HUG
Coming together for the Big Hug Reading’s MPs – (L-R) Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP and Matt Rodda MP
The Deputy Mayor and Councillors join the MPs in the Hug and Oscar is there too.
The Hug within the Abbey Ruins
A video by Andy Jones of BBC Radio Berkshire of the Hug In Progress may be seen:
Party politics were transcended on Sunday 13th October when Reading’s two MPs, Matt Rodda, the Rt Hon Alok Sharma (Secretary of State for International Development), and Reading Borough Councillors from all parties joined the 1,000 people who assembled in Reading Abbey Ruins on Sunday afternoon to stage a community Hug of the boundary walls of Reading Gaol. This was successfully completed despite downpours. People of all ages took part.
The aim of the campaign is to encourage a more imaginative use for the closed Gaol than selling it for housing. The vision of Theatre and Arts in Reading and RBC is for it to be an Arts / Cultural Hub.
The event was initiated by Artist Linda Saul. The Reading Gaol Hug Society was formed to make her vision happen and was composed of 4 members of Reading Civic Society. We were guided on any issues about running the event by Cllr Karen Rowland (RBC’s Lead Councillor for Culture, Heritage and Recreation), RBC staff and a member of the Baker Street Area Neighbourhood Association. On the day the support of around 30 Marshals and First Aiders, to ensure it all happened safely, was vital.
A press release can be seen HERE.
Matt Rodda MP’s Petition campaigning for this vision has now reached over 7,000 signatures.
Support has come from many quarters including the Oscar Wilde Society and
the Vice Chancellor of the University of Reading.
Students out in Taiwan also did a virtual hug which may be seen on the
Facebook site. HERE
A good report was provided by The Wokingham Paper.
The report from the Reading Chronicle is Reading Chronicle report
The Reading Gaol Website is https://readinggaolhug.uk