Leeds reading volunteer: “Helping pupils keeps me young”

Volunteer Sheila Speck helps four-year-old Alex Christie with his reading. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Volunteer Sheila Speck helps four-year-old Alex Christie with his reading. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
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Leeds grandmother Sheila Speck is urging YEP readers to follow in her footsteps and help the city’s youngsters to boost their reading skills.

The 70-year-old answered a YEP appeal for volunteers an incredible 14 years ago and has been supporting pupils in the same primary school ever since.

Now she is backing our new campaign to Get Leeds Reading, which aims to recruit 50 volunteers to help youngsters who have fallen behind with their reading.

The Meanwood gran, who helps reception and year one pupils at Meanwood C of E Primary twice a week, said: “It keeps me young. I love being with the children and it’s nice to know you’re actually teaching them something.”

Sheila, who reads around seven books a week, encouraged other pensioners to give it a go, saying: “Just volunteer. When they go from pictures to words it’s great. Seeing how they come on is amazing”

She added: “It’s so important because if you can’t read you can’t learn, can you?”

When we launched our campaign, we revealed how 1,000 pupils left Leeds primary schools last year without learning to read properly and half of them started secondary school with a reading age of seven or below.

That’s why we want 50 book-loving readers to sign up with our campaign partner, literacy charity Beanstalk, and provide Leeds pupils with invaluable one-to-one support. Go to www.beanstalkcharity.org.uk.

CLICK HERE TO JOIN THE DEBATE ON THE YEP’S NORTH LEEDS FACEBOOK PAGE

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