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06 October, 2020

Theatre Designer’s Cigar Box Libraries Raise Over £1,000 for Welsh Women’s Aid

Welsh Women’s Aid would like to extend an enormous thank you to our American supporter Heather, whose stunning depictions of Aziraphale’s library from Good Omen’s have raised a huge £1,080 for our organisation.

Working as a writer and theatre designer, Heather was in the midst of a project when the Covid pandemic hit America. She said, “my anxiety disorder flared so badly that I had to do something to keep my hands busy, or else I would drown in fear. I had some unused cigar boxes from my theatre work and decided to use one to make a little bookshop. I love books and have them in every nook and cranny in my home. I was inspired by Aziraphale’s beautiful and messy bookshop from the television series ‘Good Omens

“There’s between three and four hundred books in each bookshop and it takes about an hour to make ten of them. I’ve never done anything like it before, but it was something to keep me busy!”

Under the encouragement of friends and family, Heather posted a picture of her bookshop on Twitter and found herself in an exchange with Michael Sheen who plays Aziraphale in the show, and author of the original book Neil Gaiman, who had seen her work and were full of praise for it. “I wrote saying I can either make this for you, or we could do it for a charity and I offered to make three more bookshops to be auctioned off” Heather said, “Neil deferred the charity choice to Michael who chose Welsh Women’s Aid.”

A reluctant social media user, Heather conducted the auctions through Twitter “I had no idea how to hold an online action but I didn’t want to lose a large percentage of profit to a bidding platform. I wanted to pay for the shipping, and I wanted every single penny to go to Welsh Women’s Aid.”

“When my friends initially kept saying to post the picture of the bookshop on Twitter and tag Michael and Neil, I didn’t want to- I didn’t want to bother them. But I’m so glad and grateful that I did because the response was amazing. I thought we might get $50 and that would be ok. But to watch the bids go up and up was great. People were so generous and they seemed to really care about the cause and understand why the charity was so important, especially during the pandemic.”

Heather also spoke about her joy at the random acts of kindness that she has seen through this process. “The winner of the third bookshop just outbid another woman, they were neck and neck for a while and the other woman then said I can’t afford anymore but I will still make a donation to the charity. The woman who won turned around and said to me I think she needs this more than I do, can you send the bookshop to her instead. I just thought that was great, so I sent it but I’m making her an extra one.”

Heather and her family have a love of Wales and have visited Cardiff three times “We went the first time because my daughter was a huge Doctor Who fan and wanted to go to the experience. We fell in love with the culture and the vibe of the place. Two years ago, I bought my violins from Cardiff Violins, they were ones used in Sherlock BBC. They gave me an incredible price but drained my savings account! I love them and I play them every day.”

     

(Top image, the Good Omens set
Bottom image, Heather’s creations)

We are so grateful to Heather and to all those who bid on the bookshops. This generosity was greatly needed during UK lockdown. The increasing rates of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence and the impact on survivors and services during the lockdown period, have been recognised by most experts as well as Welsh Government- UN Women have referred to violence against women and girls as a “shadow pandemic”, running alongside Covid-19. During the lockdown period, contact with Wales’ national helpline Live Fear Free rose by up to 49%, call time trebled, with those making contact often reporting more frequent abuse. Visits to the Live Fear Free website increased by 144% in the last month and there were 1,683 homepage visits to the site made in April compared with 690 in March.

If you would like to support Welsh Women’s Aid, you can do so here:
https://www.welshwomensaid.org.uk/support-us/

It would be great to see more shows like this instead. An important documentary from @bbcthree where @ellieflynn explores the topic of #CoerciveControl with 20 young people 👇👇 bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episod…

Yesterday from WelshWomensAid's Twitter