October 1 2014 Latest news:
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
The sister of a remarkable man who died last month has donated more than 500 books worth tens of thousands of pounds to a Fenland school.
Mark Sennett was deaf and unable to speak but had a passion for reading - his Whittlesey bungalow was packed with thousands of books he collected during his lifetime.
Before Mark died of cancer aged 64 on January 10, he agreed with his younger sister Rebecca Ramsden for his startling array of non-fiction books to be donated to schools and universities.
Sir Harry Smith Community College has received hundreds of specialist titles including DIY books, travel guides, tourism books, dictionaries and cookery books.
It is not just the school which is set to benefit from Mark’s generosity - Cambridge University will receive a selection of his architecture books and a former Harry Smith pupil who is studying to become a doctor at Southampton University is getting some medical books.
Mrs Ramsden said: “Mark was a quite remarkable and considerate man. Although he was deaf and unable to speak, he was able to communicate his needs and requirements through writing things down.
“He was very intelligent and well read. People would underestimate him. He would think nothing of getting the train down to London to go to a specialist book shop.
“Even though his life was a constant struggle, he had no axe to grind.
“If you saw Mark’s bungalow, it’s not just a couple of rows of books. There must be thousands piled from the floor to the roof.
“He would think nothing of spending £130 on a book. We decided the books needed to go somewhere where they would be truly appreciated.
“When I suggested giving them to schools and universities, Mark agreed.”
As a child, Mark attended Margate school for the deaf. He was employed by Peterborough Council for nearly 30 years.
He worked for Westcombes Industries, a sheltered workshop for people with disabilities.
Harry Smith careers coordinator Angela Curtis thanked Mark and Rebecca for their generous donation.
She said: “His sister rang the school to see if we wanted some books and we went around expecting to find a few paperbacks but what we discovered were thousands of absolutely fantastic hardback nonfiction books.
“The books he has donated to the library will really benefit the students.
“They are great quality, the kind of books we would not be able to afford.”