Minister of the Month – Sam Mortimer

Posted by theministry on 26th January 2016

Welcome Sam Mortimer, our first 2016 Minister of the Month. Sam is an illustrator who loves to read and helps bring our young writers’ stories to life with top notch drawings.

Name: Sam Mortimer

Volunteer role: Illustrator & Writing Mentor

Live: Brixton

Favourite story & why:

One of the many amazing stories I hear while volunteering featured a character named Hobgsranglg (pronounced ‘Hobicsnarl’, as if you didn’t know), a time travelling tiger-fairy-goblin who always carried a sponge. It contained all the classic elements of a Ministry story; inventiveness, a wild cliff-hanger and silliness. The sponge was never mentioned again after the character description!

Tell us a little bit about yourself

Away from the Ministry I’m an independent illustrator. If I’m not drawing, I’m probably reading.

Why did you decide to volunteer with Ministry of Stories?

After reading about the Ministry when it first opened, I found out more as soon as I was able (by ditching the old 9-to-5) and started to volunteer. The whole idea appealed to me as it is exactly the kind of place I would have loved and benefited from as a kid.

Were you nervous about anything before starting?

I was slightly nervous, having never worked with children before, but that changed after the first session. The support you get from the Ministry and other volunteers means no one is nervous for long.

Illustrating the children’s character suggestions can be mildly terrifying, but you soon learn to have fun with your mistakes; the kids always gleefully point out that my mouse/bat looks like a horse/swan. There was once a character suggestion for a nervous god, that I thankfully didn’t have to draw.

What has been your best experience of volunteering?

I loved being part of the picture book project last year. Attempting to bring the children’s brilliant ideas and words to life in the way they wanted, was a fun kind of pressure. Working with a group over a longer period of time was also extra rewarding. Seeing them and their ideas develop is probably something teachers and parents are used to, but for me felt like a privilege.

What has been the most unexpected thing about volunteering?

I think the other volunteers. I expected and hoped the little people would be fun but I’ve met a whole bunch of interesting, lovely and inspiring big people too.

Describe the Ministry of Stories in three words

Creative, inspiring and rib-tickling.

What would you say to other people thinking of volunteering with the Ministry?

What are you waiting for! I can’t think of a negative and there will be more positives than you’ll expect. Being witness to the children’s wonderful imaginations and the pleasure they display having their skills nurtured, can be deeply rewarding.

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