What I’m reading this month with Literati

The Art of Pollination Literati poster
Virgin Galactic
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 4 May 2021

I’m really excited to share The Art of Pollination by Martin Flanagan with the readers in my Literati Book Club this month. 

The book tells the story of Jane Tewson – a woman I really admire, who has a story everybody should know. I’m always impressed by the observations, questions, discussions and ideas that are shared in our book club each much, so I’m really looking forward to talking about Jane’s story with the group throughout May.

Richard Branson and Jane Tewson listening at an Ignitign Change event in Melbourne, 2011
Image from Igniting Change

I’ve been fortunate to know Jane since we were in our twenties. She was the brains behind Comic Relief, a long-standing trustee of Virgin Unite, and also runs her own charity Igniting Change. As an unassuming force of nature, Jane quietly goes about transforming the world and lighting up lives wherever she goes.

The Art of Pollination is a book that masterfully gets to the heart of what makes Jane Tewson and Igniting Change such unique, uniting powers. Martin Flanagan, a wonderful writer, really digs deep into how and why Jane’s impact is so profound, and he makes it a really compelling read too.

The Art of Pollination book cover
Image from Jane Tewson

I remember the day she walked into my office and asked us to fund all of the overheads of a new charity she had recently set up called Charity Projects. I could tell right away she had a special quality, and agreed to help, so she could ensure 100% of profits went directly to good causes.

After that meeting, Jane went on to create Red Nose Day and Comic Relief, which has now raised well over £1 billion to change millions of lives for the better. 

An odl photo of Jane Tewson wearing a Red Nose Day t-shirt
Image from Jane Tewson

Jane now runs Igniting Change, an Australia-based charity that has an enormous impact upon the world and individuals’ lives. They take on unpopular causes, from employing ex-offenders to overcoming drug addiction, and they work with and for the communities they support.

It has been a delight in the past spending time with remarkable groups of people Igniting Change have brought together for Virgin Unite Gatherings. As Jane says: “We create a bridge connecting people who would not normally meet, and when we do, sparks fly. We work really hard to break the stigma, to see the person not the label, to create a platform for people to share their stories.” 

Jane Tewson and Jean Oelwang smile together at a Virgin Unite Gathering on Necker Island
Image from Virgin Unite

The Art of Pollination show how compassion and curiosity can make the world a better place. It's people like Jane that give me hope and remind me of the goodness in humanity, and I hope the Literati readers find her story as inspiring as I do.