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16 October 2014

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Reaching Out

By Tommy Need
December 2005, Monmouth
A digital story from Capture Wales

Books to go

Tommy loves his job as a mobile librarian. He sometimes wonders if the listening and chatting are more important than the books he delivers.

"Imagine being old enough to have read 832 books at only one a week. Then, say you didn't start until you was say seven years old and made a note of every single book and how you rated it.

Well Peggy had done exactly that. She died recently aged 99 and in the latter years of her life had really terrible arthritis that made her fingers and hands unbearably painful and deformed but she always found a way to turn the pages herself and finish her books. Right to the end of the amazing life she never complained or said "Why me?"

As special as she was, and Peg was a very special lady, her ways and attitude are so very typical of the people I meet and visit during my days on the mobile library.

Sometimes as I go about my job I wonder if the visiting and the listening is more important than the books or tapes I deliver. The books part might only take five minutes, then we can have a cup of tea and a chat or I might change a light bulb or take the bins out.

Some days we might solve third world debt or just have a rant bout MPs' obscene expenses. And for the last four years, I've stopped to pick up fish and chips for a house-bound lady, who fancied a change from meals on wheels.

One incredible thing about my job is that I never, ever get bored or fed up. The people I visit have been around for a long time and have so many different experiences and stories to tell, and to cap it all, they make me feel very welcome and I'm always left looking forward to my next visit.

Before becoming a mobile library assistant I spent 18 years in the army and never imagined that I'd end up doing this type of job but I feel so lucky and privileged to be so happy in my work.

And I even get paid. But not a lot ..."

Tommy Need

Please tell us a little about yourself.
I'm 49 years old, married with two young girls. I work for Monmouthshire County Council after spending 18 years in the army. I love the great outdoors (in my garden!)

What's your story about?
It's about my job driving a mobile library and meeting elderly people from all over Monmouthshire. I love my job and what I get out from it... and the people I meet are fantastic.

What did you find most rewarding about the workshop?
Seeing my story told on film.

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