Actor Michael Sheen supports independent bookshops

The owner of an independent bookshop in the small town of Hythe, Hampshire, was shocked to discover an appeal he made to his Facebook group reached Hollywood actor Michael Sheen last week in a heart-warming turn of events.

Welsh born Sheen, known to audiences for movies such as Underworld, New Moon and Tony Blair in The Queen with Oscar winner Dame Helen Mirren, and the forthcoming geek-fest blockbuster Tron Legacy, heard about the plight of struggling Chapter One Bookshop through social media site Twitter.

‘The plea wasn’t about money but to help with spreading the word about the bookshop whilst the High Street was quiet in the run up to the election,” said Grant Sharkey, owner of the bookshop. “We’d seen a couple of weeks of really poor foot fall all across Hythe and it seemed a natural way to reach out.’

The appeal was fortunately picked up by Farther Ted and Black Books writer, Graham Linehan on Twitter; who had been previously debating online with Grant about movies in the morning; and he re-tweeted the appeal to his 50,000 followers.

‘Soon after that I was inundated with book orders from all over the country. Friendly, lovely people who never want to live in a world without bookshops,’ says Grant, ‘It was a very emotional day. A brilliant day.’

The message was sent around from stranger to stranger, until it ended up on the computer screen of Michael Sheen who was reading in Los Angeles.

‘I woke up a few days later to see a donation had been made from someone in L.A. It was for £250 and I recognised the name but never wanted to assume that the week could’ve got any better and such a great actor was also such a great person,’ said Grant.

‘I sent an email back with a ‘thank you’ note, explaining that as the appeal wasn’t about money, then the donation would go towards a competition we’re running for local kids to show us how big their imaginations are. I also jokingly said I loved his work in Top Gear, where he was a Star in a Reasonably Priced Car. I have no idea how that went down…but it seemed like a nice way to recognise his work without being a sycophant.’

‘He got back to me with a very nice note of support for the shop and it’s endeavours. It’s extremely humbling that small, independent bookshops are so well loved and cherished that they can cause such a stir of emotion in strangers and communities. They should be rallied around and supported as much as possible. Thank you to everyone, local and beyond, who stepped up when things were looking hard and made a difference.’

As Michael Sheen said on his Twitter page ‘Support local bookshops. They are why God gave us the ability to browse.’

Grant Sharkey’s Twitter Page: www.twitter.com/grantsharkey
Michael Sheen’s Twitter Page:
www.twitter.com/Michaelsheen
Graham Linehan’s Twitter Page: www.twitter.com/glinner

Chapter One Facebook Group can be found searching: “Chapter One Bookshop’ on Facebook.