Read Easy Basingstoke

To learn to read contact: Yvonne Hedgcock (Basingstoke and Deane)

Tel: 07592 450789

To volunteer contact: Joanne Barnett


About our group:

We set up Read Easy Basingstoke in August 2019 to cover all areas coming under Basingstoke & Deane District Council.  We trained our first Volunteer Coaches in September 2019 and they are now all paired up with readers.  Like everybody else, we have been rather stopped in our tracks by the Covid Pandemic but reading pairs have kept going where possible. We are anxious to train our next group of coaches as soon as we can.

Please do get in touch if you know of anyone who struggles to read and who would benefit from our help or if you would like to volunteer.

Jane Ford – Team Leader
Tel: 07899 986 456
Aaron Ford – Treasurer
Lindy O’Callaghan – Deputy Team Leader, Publicity and Referrals
Malcolm Ferguson – Secretary, Data Protection and Safeguarding Champion
Joanne Barnett – Volunteer Recruiter
Tracey Taylor – Fundraiser
Jay Ganesh – Venue Organiser and IT
Sarah Sally – Admin

Group News:

We do hope that you and yours have remained safe and well throughout the months of lockdown. Can you imagine what the lockdown must have been like for those who cannot or who struggle to read? As we slowly emerge, it seems the right time to contact everyone to let you know what our future plans are. 

Management Team News 

First, we have been sad to say goodbye to some Team members. Melvyn Mortimer joined us as a Training Officer with a view to becoming our second Co-ordinator and his enthusiasm and commitment have been much appreciated. The Pandemic has given some opportunities and he has been working, and will continue to work, for a local company now producing ventilators. Finally, Tracey has been fantastic as a Fund Raiser. In her short time with us, she has ensured that we have sufficient funds for a year! Tracey has had to step down for personal reasons, but we know that she, and Mel will continue to support Read Easy. 

We are fortunate to be joined by Yvonne Hedgecock as our new Co-ordinator; by Michael Beeston and Debra Greatrex as our Training Officers, and Sally Sokolov who will provide admin support to Yvonne. Brenda was our first Co-ordinator and has changed roles to become our Literacy Specialist. They will bring their many skills to the Team and we are delighted to welcome them. Details of the current Management Team together with their contact details, are at the end of this Newsletter. 

We do still have a vacancy for a Fund Raiser. Please contact Jane if you are interested. 


During Lockdown, it has only been possible for coaching sessions to take place online, or latterly, outside whilst maintaining social distancing. We have had two pairs of Readers and Coaches who have managed to continue with their coaching sessions, and made huge progress, with one about to embark on the next stage of her reading journey to Moving On. As the measures are relaxed, we hope to get back as far as we can to coaches and readers meeting physically, in a safe place. 

Here are some photos to show one reader and her coach using their phones to continue their reading sessions remotely and another pair who found a park bench where they can sit 2m apart with a book each! 

We are fortunate enough to have a number of volunteers waiting to be trained as soon as we are given the go ahead. The maximum number we can train at any one time is 14. If you have volunteered to train as a coach but are unable to make the next training session which, we hope, will be in the Autumn, then we will be arranging another training session in the Spring. 


Just prior to Lockdown, we had begun to make a big breakthrough in attracting Readers, but it feels like we will almost be starting all over again. It must take a huge amount of courage to come forward as an adult and admit that you struggle to read. We will be doing all we can think of to spread the word and ask you to do the same. Please contact Lindy (details below) if you have any brilliant ideas about how to attract Readers! 


Also, just prior to Lockdown, Alan Titchmarsh, who lives locally, had kindly agreed to be Patron of our Basingstoke Read Easy group. As I am sure you know, Alan is not only famed for his gardening but is also the author of a number of novels: 

‘I’m delighted to be a patron of Read Easy Basingstoke – the accessibility of the written word is vital to us all and opens up a world of imagination and information that no-one should have to be without.’ 

Alan Titchmarsh MBE