Over the last 10 years some incredibly talented people have been part of the Seven Stories team. Three of our colleagues, past and present, reminisce about their favourite moments from their time at the National Centre for Children's Books. There are currently 9 vacancies to join the Seven Stories Team, click here to find out how you can be part of our story. Paul Black (Former Events Officer at Seven Stories, currently Communications Manager & Corporate PR Manager at Walker Books.)

“I worked at Seven Stories for just under 3 years, but I think the place and the job that changed me forever. Before working on the events programme there I liked children's books, I'd studied them before and appreciated what they could do or say... but it wasn't until I'd been a part of the Seven Stories mission that I realised the true power books can have, and how vitally important a love of reading is for any child. For me, now I work in communications and publicity, my job is about getting books out there; fighting with TV, movies, computer games and the like to draw children's  (and their parents) attention to books - I always keep with me the importance of bringing a book to life, thinking off the page and how many different ways there are about thinking about a book - it's not just what's on the paper in front of you, but what ideas, love and passion went into every single book out there. That's something that Seven Stories visitors centre and collection does, it shows you that a book is the result of years of hard work and a whole team of people. I'll never forget my first ever event at Seven Stories; a book signing with Francesca Simon that, at the time, was record breaking for visitor numbers, a record that in the ensuing 2 or 3 years we kept on smashing. I'm always proud to say I've been the old man on a stone for the wonderful Julia Donaldson, been Maisy Mouse, The Gruffalo and The Very Hungry Caterpillar numerous times, and have a book shelf straining under the weight of so many signed books.  It's lovely bumping into old colleagues, or many of the authors and illustrators I was fortunate to work with; just recently I was at the Sebastian Walker Award evening and met up with one of my Seven Stories Eggheads team members, and had a good laugh remembering that strange day in Seven Stories celluloid history! I was able to set up the first ever illustrator in residence with the amazing Catherine Rayner SO many years ago (6, maybe? WOW!) and know anytime I'm in her neck of the woods we'll get together for a glass of wine. I've been really, really fortunate in that in my jobs since leaving Seven Stories I've been able to maintain a relationship with the passionate people who make it work - not only bringing authors for events or exhibitions, but also linking them up for partnerships and relationships that I hope will continue for many years. Happy Birthday Seven Stories, here's to many, many more and to decades of continued success!  Lizzie Almond (Former Seven Stories CAST member who is currently teaching English at Walker Technology College and head of Key Stage Three Reading for Pleasure) “I worked at Seven Stories from 2008-2011; I started as a CAST member but was trained in the bookshop and the café. My time at Seven Stories was incredibly enjoyable; I honestly believe there is no other workplace like it! I met some amazing people, both staff and visitors and remember it all vividly. The thing about the staff at Seven Stories is, they really believe in it. They believe in it with everything that they are. We all came from different backgrounds, we had different hobbies and interests but we were intensely passionate about celebrating and sharing children’s literature and so incredibly tight bonds were formed. Since Seven Stories, I have studied English Literature at Sheffield University. I then trained to be and English teacher. Currently, I’m an English teacher at Walker Technology College and was recently put in charge of Reading at Key Stage Three. The knowledge I gained at Seven Stories helps me every day as I am the teacher who students come to for book recommendations. Which, let’s face it, is the nicest job out there. Happy Birthday Seven Stories!”

Carey Fluker Hunt (Carey began her Seven Stories career in 2008 and is currently Creative Projects Manager). 

We nearly didn’t get there. My four-year-old was being stroppy about getting in the car and my seven-year-old couldn’t find his coat. But there was something about the flyer that made me persist. Daft as a Bucket, the exhibition was called: Inside the World of Colin McNaughton, and it was the work of an organisation called the Centre for the Children’s Book. I’d never heard of them, but we all liked picturebooks, so off we went. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I’d never set foot in that exhibition hall; if I’d never seen those roomsets or that artwork or those people dressed as pirates. But I did see them, and so did my family, and our lives were never quite the same again. Sitting on a table at the exhibition was a pamphlet. It said that Newcastle was about to be the home of a National Museum dedicated to children’s books. My first reaction was joy. How amazing, I thought; how wonderful! Then terror struck me. I liked books. No, I loved books. How could something this wonderful be happening without me? So I wrote a letter. It was probably a bit over-enthusiastic, but the Centre’s founders were kind enough to ignore that. Although who knows? In those early days we had very few resources other than enthusiasm and the ability to work hard. But luckily for us, those are precisely the things you need when you’re setting something up from nothing; something that will pretty much take over your life. You also need imagination and knowledge and dedication and tenacity and wiliness and charm - and above all, the ability to understand what it is that you don’t have and recognize it in others. Because this kind of project is always about working together and creating a community, and for me, that’s been the biggest reward of all. Of course, I wrote that letter a very long time ago, before The Centre for the Children’s Book became Seven Stories and found a home for itself and opened its doors to ten year’s of challenges and excitement and lots and lots of visitors. And in that time, some amazing things have happened: too many to list here. In no particular order…

  • Climbing a ladder at 30, Lime St to get to what is now the Robert Westall Gallery, long before the building belonged to Seven Stories and became the Centre we know today. The floor was full of pigeons and there was a placard of Trotsky blocking up a hole. I just knew the place was going to matter to us - a lot. And it did!

  • Creating the Jolly Postman’s Post Office down in the Creation Station, complete with parcels and other props. I loved watching children delivering post all over the building - and I especially liked the caps
  • Hearing Philip Pullman talking about Lorek Byrnison, the armoured bear from Northern Lights, and how the character first ‘walked into’ his books. Never mind Philip, the hairs on the back of my neck went all shivery. There’s nothing like listening to an author or illustrator to make the creative journey into something utterly meaningful and real.
  • Looking out from inside the visitor centre on the day we opened to see the aerial storytellers scaling the white tower while flower petals tumbled down across the glass

  • Developing ideas for immersive book environments - such as the Sea-Thing-Child’s stones and the Shoe Baby’s shoe - with David Lloyd of Walker Books, and seeing them turn into our Bear Hunt exhibition

Enough to say that if I had to go back and do it all again, I wouldn’t hesitate to write that letter and jump on board. Seven Stories matters, the way that books matter. It welcomes us and challenges us and cheers us on to greater things. And I love it.