Janice Hall, Chair

As Chair of Northern Children’s Book Festival it is my absolute privilege to work alongside Trustees, Coordinator, and Working Group members to support this wonderful festival.

“I have been chair for the last five years and involved with the festival from its very beginning in 1983. I have seen NCBF grow and develop over the years and with the support of so many authors, illustrators, publishers, schools and libraries, NCBF has been one of the highlights of my library career”.

Leah Adams is the School Librarian at Walbottle Campus, Newcastle upon Tyne is a passionate advocate of reading for pleasure. Leah became involved with the Northern Children’s Book Festival as she felt the opportunities offered by the festival for children and young people to meet and interact with authors, poets and illustrators are a brilliant way of inspiring and engaging young readers.

Eric Ferguson is a Senior Primary School Improvement Consultant for Newcastle City Council and has extensive experience working in primary schools. He is specifically responsible for supporting school leaders and directs the development of Literature Works, a region-wide, English and cross curricular strategy which benefits the whole school. He is committed to improving pupil achievement in reading and writing. Previous to his current role Eric has worked as an OfSTED inspector, an associate regional adviser for the DfE and deputy head teacher in the UK and abroad.

Mark Freeman has been Libraries and Heritage Services Manager for the Borough of Stockton-on-Tees since October 2011. As a former Schools and Children’s Librarian, he is passionate about the role of libraries in supporting reading and learning and has also worked in Northamptonshire, North Yorkshire and South Tyneside.  He is national Chair of Share the Vision and a National Executive Member of the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL).

Andrew Harrison teaches at a rural primary school and he became a Trustee for the Northern Children’s Book Festival in February 2014. Prior to his current role, Andrew taught at Tyneview Primary School, Brough Primary School and Forest Primary School. Other roles include supply teacher, theatre marketeer, drama workshop facilitator, and he was one of the original founders of the “Funny Way to Be” comedy club.

Karen Taws has lived and worked in the North East since 1996.  Since 2007 she has been a freelance consultant providing services to the arts and cultural sector and to non-sector organisations who use the arts and creativity as a tool for driving social and economic change.  Working for local, regional and national clients she has expertise in a range of areas including: evaluation; research and mapping; policy and strategy development; organisational and governance development; and, funding research, income generation and fundraising.

Rachel Warkup has worked in public libraries for over 10 years in a variety of roles, including driving a jungle themed mobile library around schools in North Tyneside! Rachel now manages the North Tyneside School’s Library Service, library services for children and young people and co-ordinate the libraries’ events and outreach programme.

Dawn Williams is a highly experienced Cultural Education Manager, skilled in partnership development, project management, impact reporting, evaluation, and facilitating creative consultation. Dawn is a huge supporter of libraries and is proud to have worked in both North Tyneside and Gateshead as part of the arts team.

Judy Zajac is Service Specialist for the Children and Adult Reading Team, Newcastle Libraries and has been involved with NCBF for more than 10 years.

“I am lucky enough to have the amazing job of inspiring and engaging children and young people on their reading journeys through my work with Newcastle Libraries. My previous jobs have been a dresser for a theatre company, a caterer for a pop band during their European tour, lots of waitressing and shop work. Having such varied opportunities has put me in good stead for my work with the Northern Children’s Book Festival!”.