Portraits of the People with The National Lottery

Find out what’s been going on in our sessions as one of our Lead Readers shares news from their group.


Portraits of the People with The National Lottery


Liz Treacher is a writer, photographer, and a lead reader who runs our creative writing group at Brora Learning Zone.


How to sum up the fantastic work of 75 Open Book Lead Readers, from Shetland to Stranraer and the Western Isles to the Borders? That was the challenge I faced recently when the National Lottery wanted to highlight the work of Open Book by focusing on the Brora group. The National Lottery’s 2020 Good Causes Campaign was keen to showcase the impact Open Book has had during the pandemic by keeping people engaged with the arts and they sent a film crew up to Sutherland (on one of the rainiest days of the year)!


Because of social distancing, I was told to stay inside my house and they stood on the driveway with hoods up and filmed me through the open doorway! They asked how Open Book had reacted to the pandemic and I explained how quickly everyone had adapted to help group members reconnect – mostly on Zoom, but some groups through email or telephone. Then they asked about the Brora group itself.


We are a small but keen group and meet once a month at Brora Learning Zone, although we get together on Zoom at the moment. We are a mix of learning centre users and community members and we are all keen poets! We love to write poems as a group and being able to continue to meet up has really inspired us during lockdown. To be honest, our Zoom meetings kept me going when my own writing ground to a halt.

After the interview, I showed the crew our local beach. It was still lashing with rain, but I was glad they could see how fierce and beautiful the landscape looked. It summed up both the joys and the challenges of keeping everyone connected all-year-round that I think all Lead Readers experience, particularly at the moment.
Liz’s portrait, taken by celebrity photographer Chris Floyd, is being exhibited alongside 12 other individuals who have helped to keep the arts alive during lockdown at 8 iconic galleries around the UK, including Summerhall in Edinburgh, London’s National Portrait Gallery and the National Museum of Wales. You can watch Liz in a short film made to celebrate this campaign: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvdfHvjXmgI&feature=youtu.be
Photo credit: Chris Floyd www.chrisfloyd.com