Today (3 March 2011) is World Book Day and it saw the launch of Frank Cottrell Boyce’s brand new book, The Unforgotten Coat, in the very place it was written – on a train. Frank’s regular trips between Liverpool and London onboard Virgin Trains’ iconic 125mph tilting trains inspired him to write The Unforgotten Coat.
The story is about a young girl from Bootle, who begins to see things differently after she befriends two new Mongolian boys, who turn up suddenly at her school and tell her of their travels, and was written especially for The Reader Organisation, a charity that aims to bring about a reading revolution. It will be the main focus of their annual shared reading campaign for young people: Our Read.
Frank said: “I’m not sure what it is about trains – maybe it’s that sense that you’re going somewhere, or maybe it’s that your time is limited, or maybe it’s that magical thing of the world rushing past your window while you are sitting still which is a bit like dreaming. Whatever it is, I always have my best ideas on trains.
“I wrote most of The Unforgotten Coat on the Virgin Trains’ Pendolino Liverpool to London service – travelling up and down to meetings. I love passing that stretch of wetland outside Stafford, where if you’re lucky you can sometimes spot a fox.”
To celebrate the start of the world’s largest shared-reading project The Reader Organisation will be taking 25 young Liverpudlians to London onboard a Virgin Trains, accompanied by Frank Cottrell Boyce who will be reading aloud to them from The Unforgotten Coat, for the very first time. Many of these young people have never travelled outside Liverpool before, let alone visited London. The journey will culminate in a trip to the British Library.
In response to finding out that they had been invited on the trip, one of the young people commented: “I can’t believe that I get to go to London! This is going to be the best day ever…” Another said: “The Virgin trains are those really cool ones that lean when you go round corners aren’t they?! I can’t wait to go on it…”
The Reader Organisation will be distributing 50,000 copies of The Unforgotten Coat to schools, libraries, train stations and high-street locations across the UK and abroad, all with the aim of encouraging young people to read for pleasure, and to share the experience with those around them.
Gary Iddon, Virgin Trains General Manager for Liverpool, said: “Many of our passengers tell us that they are able to make practical use of the time they spend travelling by train. We are delighted that our service between Liverpool and London has provided Frank with some valuable travel time and gave him the inspiration to write ‘The Unforgotten Coat’. This is also a great example of Virgin Trains being part of the local community and supporting local initiatives.”