A NEW community bookshop coming to St Helens has appointed its manager as work has begun to bring the venture one step closer.

The Star reported as a crowdfunding campaign to bring a bookstore to St Helens town centre reached its target of £40,000 thanks to donations from across the community, which enabled the project to access additional funds.

A lease has been signed for the former Furniture Boutique on Bridge Street, part of Church Square Shopping Centre, with work now underway to transform the space by contractors HMS Works.

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It is hoped works will be completed in a couple of months.

The idea for a community bookshop was sparked by the closure of Westfield Street store Wardleworth's last year.

The bookshop will be owned and run by the community and exist for the benefit of the people of St Helens.

The St Helens Book Stop, a community benefit society, was launched to realise the ambition, with the efforts of trustees Brian Leyland, Julia Cadman and Steven Davies and other members of the steering group, Anna Peacock, Nigel Wimpenny and Mike Gaskell.

Laura Goodchild, from Parr, has been unveiled as the bookshop's manager.

Manager Laura Goodchild

Manager Laura Goodchild

Laura, 28, who previously worked as lead bookseller and head of the children's department at Waterstone's in Wigan, said: "I am so excited and it will be great to have something back in the town, there hasn't been a bookshop since Wardleworth's

"As a child I never got grounded, I had my books taken off me. My dream as a child was to have my own little bookshop so this job is right up there.

"It is something St Helens needs and it is a space to have reading groups."

Former Haydock High pupil Laura believes that, following the restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, there is a desire for people to support local business.

"I think now is a good time for us to be doing it and I think people are excited to have something different and to have something local to support."

A CGI of how the inside may look Credit: Hannah Tyson

A CGI of how the inside may look Credit: Hannah Tyson

Many residents have given their support to the project and there is also high profile backing from people born in the area who no longer live here.

They include St Helens-born Sir Michael Smurfit, one of Europe's most successful businessmen; Brendan O'Neill, ex-CEO of ICI and Guinness Brewing Worldwide; choreographer Paul Harris, and Milton Grundy, the founder of Gray's Inn Tax Chambers.

Meanwhile, journalists Ray Connolly and David Lawrenson, author and journalist Charles Nevin and Andrew Lees, the neurologist and author, have also given their support.

Closer to home, others to have invested include Saints captain James Roby, club chairman Eamonn McManus, the Steve Prescott Foundation's Linzi Prescott, women's rugby league player Jodie Cunningham, ex-Premier League football referee Chris Foy, actor Phil Gwilliam and council leader David Baines.

Saints shareholder Michael Coleman is also on the investor list as is local fashion retailer Chris O'Dea, O2's Steve Roberts, Andy Reid's Standing Tall Foundation, ex council chief executive Mike Palin and former council leader Derek Long.