LONDON - 245 metres at the top of The Shard, against London’s shimmering night skyline, guests gathered to support the launch of Booktrust’s Children’s Reading Fund. This excellent charity, under the patronage of the Duchess of Cornwall, promotes reading to improve the life chances for disadvantaged children in the UK aged between 4 and 11.
With his customary flair, Sotheby’s Richard Fattorini conducted an auction which far exceeded the organisers’ expectations. Bidding was competitive, and no doubt encouraged by the greater potency of champagne when drunk at high altitudes. The auction raised £12,400, bringing up the evening’s total sum to £22,010.
The top selling lot was a collection of 500 children’s books to be donated to a school, hospital or other organisation of the buyer’s choice and on their behalf. The books were donations by publishing houses in the UK (sold at £4,000).  Also at auction was the opportunity to become a named character in one of James Patterson’s latest novels (sold at £3,500).
Luminaries from the world of literature came to support the charity, including novelist Joanna Trollope, co-writer of Matilda the Musical Tim Minchin and the poet Lemn Sissay. All stressed the importance of reading and children’s books. Minchin told guests that “Matilda is the story of a girl from whom reading is emancipation,” and Joanna Trollope talked about her memories of the joy of discovering her favourite novels.