Yachtswoman and author Tracy Edwards MBE honoured achievers in the Reading Ahead programme at Uxbridge College.
Tracy, who was the first woman to navigate an all-female crew round the world and has written two books about her life, awarded certificates of achievement and prizes of books to students. Representatives from national charity The Reading Agency, which runs the Reading Ahead programme, also took part in the event, with their Programme Manager Genevieve Clarke congratulating students and talking about the Agency’s work.
A total of 930 students at Uxbridge College completed the programme, which required them to read six books and to write a review of each book. They were then given feedback on each review by a member of staff – adding up to more than 5,000 books and reviews.
Tracy Edwards presented awards to student achievers and also spoke about her life, including about her experiences as a child and teenager, during which time she found refuge from difficulties at home and school in reading.
The yachtswoman won international fame in 1989 as the skipper of the first all-female crew to sail around the world in the Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race, and went from strength to strength in the world of international sailing. She has also worked with CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection) and continues to support the welfare of young people through Safer World Training Ltd and her charity Maiden Rescue which promotes educational opportunities for girls all over the world. She is the author of Maiden, published by Simon & Schuster; 1990 (Whitbread Sports Book of the Year) and Living Every Second, Hodder & Stoughton; 2001.
Suba Dickerson, Information and Learning Resources Manager, who co-ordinated Reading Ahead at Uxbridge College, said: “I am delighted that so many students managed to complete Reading Ahead alongside their qualifications. Students’ reading and writing skills have improved throughout the programme – all the completers should feel incredibly proud of their achievements.”
Genevieve Clarke said: “At The Reading Agency we are thrilled that Uxbridge College has had such success with our Reading Ahead programme. It’s brilliant to see that reading for pleasure really can support students’ attainment at every level as well as giving them skills for life beyond college.”
Last year, the highest number of programme completers in the country was at The Manchester College where a total of 616 students met their goals, in what was then known as the Six Book Challenge.
The Reading Agency is a charity supported with funding from Arts Council England. It works to inspire more people to read more, encourage them to share their enjoyment of reading, and celebrate the difference that reading makes to all our lives. Reading Ahead, run through public libraries, colleges and other organisations, is one of a number of initiatives run by the charity to support this aim.
The Reading Ahead 2015/16 special award winners were: Star Performer of the Year, Marcus Davenport; Most Improved Student: Ajmeer Monir; Best ESOL student, Hashem Al-Haj Ali; Best Functional Skills Student, Ioannis Antypass; Best GCSE student, Hannah Bowen; Highly Commended Award, Elisha Mullins.