Harry Potter and Mamma Mia star Julie Walters opens new community project near Horsham

A group of residents have teamed up to transform an old phone box in Rudgwick into a children’s book swap library.

The newly restored box was opened on Monday by national treasure and local resident Dame Julie Walters.

Edward M Butler, project director, Julie Walters, Ben Annetts, sales and marketing director, Berkeley Group. Picture by Steve Robards SR1922059

Edward M Butler, project director, Julie Walters, Ben Annetts, sales and marketing director, Berkeley Group. Picture by Steve Robards SR1922059

Project chairman, Edward Butler first had the idea when he spotted the box while walking his son Ollie to school.

He said with a bit of research he found other boxes had been converted and set out on the project.

Edward formed a steering committee with four ladies from the area who he said were ‘invaluable’ in drumming up support from businesses.

He added: “Berkeley Homes in particular were very kind in giving us a generous donation and that really got the project over the line.

That money made it possible for us to finish the project before the kids go back for the new school year.”

Cash raised from residents allowed the committee to employ full time restorer Tim Ralph to do the work.

Edward said: “We were all blown away by Tim’s dedication and craftsmanship throughout the project.

“We wanted to do the bulk of the work ourselves as a community but when we realised how specialised it was and how intricate in detail it would be, we were actually quite relieved to hand the restoration over to Tim.”

This box will become a place where children aged three to 16 can swap a book on the way to school. Edward said Julie was delighted to have been asked to unveil it and being a Harry Potter and Paddington Bear actress had many links to the literary world.

He added: “The book swap will make the phone box part of the village again.

“I hope the kids get a lot of enjoyment from swapping their books to and from school.”

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