1964. Sharon Pindar
Sharon Pindar, from London, founded ‘Bookmark Reading’, a charity that has supported over 1,400 children across Years 1-4 in 90 English schools who had been identified by teachers as not meeting the expected standard for reading.
Growing up in poverty, Sharon learnt first hand the devastating impact that illiteracy and poor reading skills can have on someone’s life from her mother, who was unable to read. It inspired Sharon to set up an organisation helping children gain confidence at reading, with a particular focus on how good reading skills enable people to have better life chances by understanding job applications, health information, important documentation, and day-to-day signage, among many other things. ‘Bookmark Reading’ was launched in 2018 and, supported by over 1,200 trained and vetted volunteers, has so far conducted almost 14,000 reading sessions. The organisation runs a six-week reading programme consisting of two 30-minute sessions a week with a child who needs extra support, with sessions taking place either face-to-face in a local primary school or virtually through the organisation’s secure online platform. Sharon has also this year launched a ‘Bookmark Box for Ukraine’ appeal, donating reading materials to Ukrainian child refugees whose families have fled the Russian invasion, and which are designed to help them gain English Language tools and adjust to their new surroundings.
“I am honoured to receive this award on behalf of Bookmark’s wonderful community – staff, volunteers, donors, schools, and supporters – all working together to ensure children have the reading skills and confidence they need for a fair chance in life. I know from personal experience the devastating impact poor literacy can have on communities – together we can break this cycle.”