I have a very special reason for being so thrilled to invite Pam Rhodes onto Linda’s Book Bag today. You see, my much missed Dad thought she was the nicest person on television and so Pam has a special place in my heart. I’d like to thank Olivia Neilson at Midas PR for arranging for Pam to stay in with me and tell me about one of her books.
Staying in with Pam Rhodes
Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Pam. Thanks so much for staying in with me.
Oh, I’m always up for a night in and a good natter. Mind you, bearing in mind that the book I’m bringing along is all about encouraging people to get out of the house to find great company, perhaps we should be putting out coats on and heading for the door!
We can have a walk later Pam. Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you brought it?
Well, I’d like to bring Springtime At Hope Hall, the first book in my new trilogy about a big old memorial hall that is probably very similar to one just around the corner from wherever you live!
You’re absolutely right Pam. There are several buildings like that here in the Deepings. We’ll take a look when we go on that walk! I understand Springtime at Hope Hall is out today so happy publication day!
Thanks Linda. Britain is full of these halls, whether they’re a century old like this one, or much younger – community halls with doors that are open from morning till night offering activities that cater for all tastes and ages from one to one hundred. So, whether you’re keen on Zumba, flower arranging, slimming club, pensioners’ lunches, Knit and Natter (or Stitch and Bitch, depending who’s there!), money advice, food bank, lessons in English as a foreign language or puppy training classes, you’ll find it – and much more – at Hope Hall!
I love your alternative name to Knit and Natter, which we have at the library! Springtime at Hope Hall sounds wonderful and am delighted I have a copy ready to read. What else have you brought along and why?
I’ve brought along the oddest-shaped carrot from my garden (well, that will have us giggling!), along with my best gladioli and chrysanths, because I’m hoping for a first prize rosette at the Hope Hall annual flower show again.
That’s some carrot Pam…
Are you planning to enter your tomatoes this year? Tell me your secret. What do you feed them to make them grow so huge?
It’s the allotment that does it. Plenty of light in the greenhouse up there! I might add a bit of something to the watering too but I can’t tell you what as I don’t want the competition knowing all my secrets!
And I’ve brought a spare pair of tap shoes for you, as well as my own. The tiles in your kitchen are perfect to hear the rhythm of our heels and toes, even if we don’t always hit the beat.
Ooh. Tap dancing is something I’ve always wanted to try.
We’ll work up an appetite and need a drink after that – so I’ll choose the creamiest, most mouth-watering cakes from Maggie’s café at Hope Hall, along with ice-cold glasses of her homemade elderflower cordial. Yum! Oh, and I want to talk to you about the pair of us volunteering for the Hope Hall panto later in the year. They’re looking for a Good Fairy and a Village Idiot at the moment. You’ve got just the right legs for a sparkly tutu and fairy wings – and that will leave me, your idiot friend, with all the best lines and a lot of laughs!
Leave that one with me Pam. I’m not sure the world is ready for me in a tutu. It must be almost 55 years since I last wore one.
And by the way, I’d like to bring along my neighbour, Ida, who’s now widowed and in her eighties. She can be a bit prickly, but I think that’s because she spends so much time alone. There’s always plenty of company for her at Hope Hall – even if that awful old fella, Percy, is likely to turn up, and he really does rub Ida up the wrong way. I heard a whisper that Ida’s very first kiss was with Percy, but I really can’t believe that ….
Now you’ve got me intrigued. Ida is most welcome. I reckon I can wheedle a secret or two out of Percy, so you pour the elderflower cordial and I’ll tell everyone a bit more about Springtime at Hope Hall. Thanks so much for staying in with me!
Springtime at Hope Hall
There’s never a dull moment at Hope Hall, as its rooms are filled throughout the day with gossipy grandmas, body-popping teenagers, temperamental dancing teachers, a choir without one decent singer to their name, knitters who natter, caterers who bake glorious cakes, slimmers nibbling chocolate, and a nursery group where it’s the grown-ups who are near to tears!
But it’s all in a day’s work for administrator, Kath, whose job it is to make sure Hope Hall offers something for everyone! Mind you, she can see that some key members of her team are struggling – like caretaker Trevor, who is nursing his beloved wife who has cancer, and Maggie, their wonderful cook, whose husband of twenty-five years has just left her for a woman half her age.
As the team works to pull off their ambitious Hope Hall Centenary Easter Monday Fayre, Kath realizes reinforcements are needed. Brash, loud and inexperienced though she may be, Kath has a feeling that Shirley might be just the ticket!
The Fayre is a triumph but when Kath’s old flame comes back on the scene, she suddenly has some tough choices to make…
Springtime at Hope Hall is the first book in a delightful new trilogy centred on a Victorian church hall, the like of which can be found at the heart of life in so many towns across England – full of friends and neighbours with stories that will have you giggling one minute, and dabbing your eyes the next.
Published by Lion Hudson, today, 21st February 2020, Springtime at Hope Hall is available for purchase here.
About Pam Rhodes
For more than three decades, Pam Rhodes has been the familiar face of BBC’s Songs of Praise, where she is known for her sensitive interviews with hundreds of people who face huge life challenges. Pam never forgets a story, and that rich tapestry of life experience has been wonderful inspiration for her down-to-earth, heart-warming books which now number more than twenty. Pam’s wide experience of Christian church life both in Britain and around the world has provided a backdrop for most of her novels, although her books always have a wide mainstream appeal.
Pam cut her teeth in broadcast journalism, working widely in TV, Documentary and Radio, especially Premier Christian Radio where she presents her much-loved Sunday morning programme Hearts and Hymns. She is often on the road compering evenings at churches and other large musical events across Britain, and she has been very active for years in her official roles with several national and local charities. Most dear to her heart is The Leprosy Mission of which she is a Vice President. The appeal video she made at Anandaban Hospital in Nepal raised over £4m in 2019. In January of 2020, her visit to Bangladesh continued her determination to do all she can to eradicate leprosy from the world at long last.
Pam is a mum and a grandmother, and she and her husband Richard run a boarding cattery at their Bedfordshire home where they care for RSPCA cats who are looking for new owners.
For more information, visit Pam’s website.