Pictured: Murtaza Ahmadi, winner of 'Best Reviews Overall' Award with bestselling author Dorothy Koomson (left) and Shelley Cawley, Learning Resources Manager at Uxbridge College.
Hit author Dorothy Koomson, whose bestselling books include My Best Friend’s Girl and The Ice Cream Girls, was the guest of honour at Uxbridge College’s Reading Ahead 2018 awards.
Dorothy signed copies of her book The Beach Wedding, which was given away to student completers of 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 and made into a drama for ITV. Her most recent book is The Brighton Mermaid published earlier this year.
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 Uxbridge campus. Dorothy attended signings at LRCs at both sites.
Shelley Cawley, Learning Resources Manager at Uxbridge College, who co-ordinated Reading Ahead this year at the college, 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, and more students in ESOL classes have completed than the total number across college. 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 the death of 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. The Reading Agency is the leading charity inspiring 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. Reading Ahead, run through public libraries, colleges, prisons and workplaces, is one of a number of initiatives run by the charity to support this aim.
Special Award winners were:
First Completer: Shrilekshmi Suja
6 Reviews In 6 Days Winner: Sabrina Akter Rima
Best Reviews Overall: Murtaza Ahmadi
Best Review: Mohamed Abouelhana