Author in­spires at awards day

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS -

AUTHOR Dorothy Koom­son was the guest of hon­our at Uxbridge Col­lege’s Read­ing Ahead 2018 awards re­cently.

Dorothy, whose best-sell­ing books in­clude My Best Friend’s Girl and The Ice Cream Girls, signed copies of her novel The Beach Wed­ding, which was given away to stu­dents who com­pleted this year’s na­tional chal­lenge, which is run by The Read­ing Agency.

She also pre­sented awards and talked about her life and ca­reer, in­clud­ing writ­ing sto­ries for her friends when she was still at school.

Dorothy is in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned for her nov­els, which have been in­cluded on the Richard & Judy Sum­mer Reads short­list, while The Ice Cream Girls was made into a drama for ITV in 2013.

Her most re­cent book, The Brighton Mermaid, was pub­lished ear­lier this year.

Run through pub­lic li­braries, adult learning or­gan­i­sa­tions, col­leges, work­places and pris­ons, Read­ing Ahead in­vites par­tic­i­pants to pick six reads and record, rate and re­view them in a di­ary in or­der to get a cer­tifi­cate.

A to­tal of 900 stu­dents took part in the chal­lenge across the col­lege this year, in­clud­ing 350 ESOL (English for Speak­ers of Other Lan­guages) stu­dents based at Hayes, as well as Func­tional Skills stu­dents from the Uxbridge cam­pus. Dorothy at­tended sign­ings at both sites.

Shel­ley Caw­ley, learning re­sources man­ager at Uxbridge Col­lege, who co-or­di­nated Read­ing Ahead this year, said: “It was amaz­ing to have a best­selling author like Dorothy Koom­son at the awards cer­e­monies – she was a real in­spi­ra­tion and a great role model in so many ways.

“This year Uxbridge Col­lege has sup­ported the high­est num­ber of ESOL stu­dents yet to com­plete the chal­lenge.

“This is a huge achieve­ment as most ESOL learn­ers were un­able to speak, read or write English at the start of their cour­ses.”

Genevieve Clarke, from The Read­ing Agency, said: “We are de­lighted that Uxbridge Col­lege con­tin­ues to have such suc­cess with our Read­ing Ahead pro­gramme.

“We know that it is par­tic­u­larly val­ued by ESOL learn­ers for whom read­ing is an ideal path­way to in­creased vo­cab­u­lary and com­pre­hen­sion skills.”

This year the chal­lenge has fo­cused on sup­port­ing English lan­guage skills for ESOL learn­ers and oth­ers who needed sup­port in this area, and in­cluded stu­dents com­plet­ing some of their re­views in a timed ex­er­cise in class to help them pre­pare for their ex­ams.

Read­ing ma­te­rial in­cluded top­i­cal ar­ti­cles about Pro­fes­sor Stephen Hawk­ing and his legacy fol­low­ing his death in March, and the wed­ding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, as well as The Jour­ney by Francesca Sanna, a book based on in­ter­views with refugees and echo­ing the jour­neys of a num­ber of Uxbridge Col­lege stu­dents.

The Read­ing Agency is a char­ity sup­ported with fund­ing from Arts Coun­cil Eng­land. It aims to in­spire peo­ple of all ages and all back­grounds to read for plea­sure and em­pow­er­ment. Work­ing with part­ners, their aim is to make read­ing ac­ces­si­ble to ev­ery­one.

Spe­cial Award win­ners at the col­lege were:

Suja Sab­rina Ak­ter Rima Ah­madi Abouel­hana Shrilek­shmi Mur­taza Mo­hamed

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