Celebrity author David Baddiel visits new South Tyneside cultural venue

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A famous author and comedian has helped spread The Word about South Tyneside’s newest cultural venue.

David Baddiel yesterday visited The Word, National Centre for the Written Word and declared it ‘absolutely brilliant’.

The star visited the new library and digital hub in Market Place, South Shields yesterday ahead of its public openingon Saturday.

He was welcomed to the striking £16m centre and given a tour of the impressive facilties, which include library and exhibition space, computer gaming area, a FabLab with 3D printers and vinyl and laser cutters, digitised archives, meeting rooms, children’s immersive storytelling area, OpenZone IT suite and a café.

David, who has written four critically acclaimed adult novels and three children’s books, said: “I honestly think The Word is absolutely brilliant, I am so impressed.

“What I do, both as an author and also as a comedian, is predominantly about storytelling so to have a whole building dedicated to storytelling in all its forms is just amazing.

“What I have learned since I started writing children’s books is that they really do lose themselves in a story, and having a space like StoryWorld where they are literally immersed in the pages of a book is fantastic.”

David was particularly impressed with the centre’s spectacular Ridley Scott opening exhibition and took a selfie with the seven-feet high replica alien!

The Word’s opening this Saturday will mark the end of phase one of the £100m South Shields 365 regeneration masterplan being delivered by South Tyneside Council and its partner, Muse Developments Ltd.

The Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Alan Smith, said: “It is a real privilege to see this fantastic building come to fruition. As well as providing a superb visitor offer and enhancing our cultural reputation, The Word has something for people of all ages.

“I’m particularly pleased that local schools and colleges will be using The Word to enhance their ICT and literacy skills. Outstanding facilities such as 3D printers and laser cutters as well as a rolling programme of high-quality exhibitions, events and workshops, will provide a day out with a difference for the whole family.

“The Word will be opening its doors to the public on Saturday and I am sure the people of South Tyneside will be keen to see first-hand what this new venue for the 21st century has to offer.”