MADELEINE Lindley, who died last month, was known to primary teachers around the world for her enormous expertise in the field of children's books. From a tiny bookshop near Manchester, she built up a hugely popular book-selling empire, distributing careful selections of children's books to schools from Harrogate to Hong Kong.
After many years in the classroom and a spell in the primary advisory services, Madeleine gave up teaching in 1988 to pursue her dream of "bridging the gap between the best children's literature and children in schools". From her garage bookshop she organised displays and delivered "book boxes" to schools, impressing her growing clientele with her knowledge and infectious enthusiasm for children's books.
By 1991 she had expanded further, and her husband Mike abandoned banking to become the ull-time financial director. In 1997, Madeleine Lindley Ltd moved into the purpose-built Book Centre in Chadderton, near Oldham. The centre, with a staff of 30, now attracts more than 1,500 visitors a month, plus mail-order to schools.
Part of her success was the care she took, not only over book stock, but over the comfort of her customers. She made them so welcome that many enquired about working there. But vacancies at Book Centre were few - Madeleine inspired great loyalty: her first employee, Carmel Sandham, is still with the company.
Mike Lindley and the couple's two daughters, Amelia and Rachelle, intend to continue the expansion of Book Centre to realise Madeleine's dream - a conference and exhibition centre to house the growing programme of lectures on literacy and talks by children's authors.