ABC receives Queen’s Award for the work of its volunteers

Author's position
Article date
19 June 2014
Primary interest

ABC (Assisting Berkshire Children to read) met to celebrate receipt of the Queen’s Award at its 10th Anniversary AGM on 19 June 2014.  Set up in 2004 to find, train and support volunteers in primary schools across Berkshire, it currently has 125 volunteers supporting 400 children in 70 schools.  The reading skills of 98% of these children have improved by working with an ABC mentor.

Many of the children do not read at home and the volunteers not only hear the children’s reading, but will also play games and draw and write with them to improve their interest, motivation and confidence.  For ABC, ‘The most important thing is that the children feel happy and successful and can start to think of reading as something they enjoy.’

Noreen Sumra, chair of ABC, spoke about their desire to double in size in the next three years. They would also like extend the charity’s scheme to offer parents’ workshops in helping their own children to read. There have been a variety of fund-raising activities and donations from individuals and organisations this year, increasing income and helping the charity towards a strong financial position that helps the service to become more sustainable.

One of the volunteers at the meeting told me how children at her school, even those she doesn’t work with, often say, ”I’d love to come and read with you”.  Even if the day has started badly, she will always leave the school with a smile on her face.  Another volunteer recounted how one little boy told her that all he wanted was to become a professional footballer.  “Ah”, she said, “then you will have to join a club and sign a contract and you will certainly need to be able to read the contract first!”

If you are interested in volunteering with ABC as a reading mentor, take a look at this volunteering opportunity.  If you would like to raise awareness of the organisation or help to fundraise, then please visit the website, telephone 0118 951 1336 or e-mail