This week I was presented with a bookstand.  This was no ordinary bookstand.  Two young men – Jonny Woods and Rei Chin, from Dean Close School, had made it specially for me.  Here it is:

Jonny and Rei

The story started a year ago.  I went to Dean Close, in Cheltenham, to swim one of the 50 1km swims I completed for Power2Inspire – my charity- last year, and also spoke to a selection of students on their big stage.
At the end of my talk, Jonny, then in year 9 (so about 13) had the courage to come on stage – amongst the teachers and staff at the school – and ask me if there was anything he could make for me.  He explained he had a DT project to complete and was looking to make a helpful gadget and wondered if I had any requirements.  I said I would need a couple of days to think about it.
I decided on a bookstand because I find it a nuisance to try to hold a book while sitting in a chair. It requires balancing the book on my right leg, which I have to lift up and prop partly on the arm of the chair.  And – this is crucial – our beloved dog, Coco, a pug, doesn’t like it as she likes to sit on that side!
Jonny took on the task with gusto.  He produced numerous drawings and I visited in the summer term of 2014 to agree on the preferred style and confirm sizes and angles.  He drew in Rei, a fellow DT student, and the two of them have been working on it for almost a year, mostly on Thursday afternoons.  And here is a close up of the finished article:
The first thing that struck me was how beautiful it is.  As my friend, Andy, who came to the “handover” ceremony and took the photos, said: “It is a beautiful piece of furniture in its own right!”
Andy, an engineer by training, was seriously impressed too with the mechanical flexibility of the stand.  “There’s an awful lot of physics in there!”  The main book holder is on a cantilever, the stand twists, and the arms that hold the pages down can be adjusted to fit different sized books.  Simply stated for two 14 year old young men there is an impressive amount of Innovation in the design.  Jonny said they had used virtually every machine in the workshop, to cut, edge and rout (is that a verb?).
Caring.  Well that is obvious I trust.  Jonny started by thinking how he could help someone else.  I see that often amongst the younger generation – a very positive attitude and hope for the future.
And Excellence – I was really taken by the attention to detail.  The choice of wood to give the piece interest and contrast as well as strength, the beautifully rolled edges, the grooves on all the wooden ‘nuts’ used to tighten the bolts to create the right angles.  The attention to detail is quite astonishing from two such young people.
So I salute Jonny and Rei and thank them.  I also pass on the thanks of Coco the pug: