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Gift from man who said: Rawdon Library books made me
When Graham Smith wandered into Rawdon Library as a boy he discovered a love of reading that changed his life.
Now, more than half a century later, he has said thank you by giving thousands of pounds to help keep the library open.
Graham was eight and playing in a nearby park when he wandered into the building and fell in love with the novels, biographies, history and travel books he had never had access to before.
And he credits that fateful day as the turning point which enabled him to pass his eleven-plus and gain a place at grammar school before going on to become a successful businessman.
Now 63, he has been chairman and chief executive of a number of companies.
He decided to give something back to the library – donating £4,800 through his charitable trust – after reading in the Wharfedale Observer about the efforts of volunteers to keep it open.
Graham, the son of a mill worker who lived in Rawdon, had previously had little access to books. “I had never been to the library and we had no books in the house,” he said.
“I started taking books out and improved my reading and just scraped into grammar school. A little thing like that changed my life.
“It is one of those turning points in life that you look back on and think if you hadn’t done that things would have been very different.”
Graham, who now lives in Ilkley, added: “I found my old school reports and every one of them said Graham must improve his reading and writing. By the time I was 11 that comment wasn’t there anymore.
“Because of the library I passed the eleven-plus – I don’t think I would have otherwise.”
He added: “I am delighted to be able to help the Friends of Rawdon Library to ensure that such a valuable resource continues to be available to the community.
“I hope parents and teachers will encourage children to join the library since it has so much to offer and could, as in my case, open their minds to new horizons.”
Guiseley MP Stuart Andrew was there when the volunteers met Graham to say thank you.
He said: “Graham’s story is truly inspirational and his generous and thoughtful donation will help other children, such as he was, benefit from Rawdon library.”
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