“You only have one chance in life and you have to grab it with both hands!”
So says William, shown on the right hand side of the picture above, who is learning to read with Ginny as his reading coach. Born into a travelling family and with very little formal education, William has worked most of his life on the land. In reflecting back on his life to date, he says: “There were lots of aunts, uncles and cousins, it was a good life”. The family moved around Gloucestershire and Herefordshire picking fruit, vegetables and hops, spending four to five months in a place before moving on to find new work. William talks about it fondly: “From about ten, I started working full time and I enjoyed it. Sometimes we were up at 3.30 am to go pea picking – you wanted to get out there earlier than the other families. I really loved going in the rhubarb fields to cut rhubarb early on a frosty morning – beautiful! I loved the outdoor life, even the cold – you got used to it. We used to wash outdoors. Of course, we had no electricity in the trailer, so we used a Tilley lamp and watched TV plugged into car batteries. They were good times – you were happy, you could do what you wanted, more than nowadays.”
The travelling life involved changing schools and so although his four siblings learned to read, William missed out, which affected his confidence in later life. After 28 years working at a nursery in Evesham, William was struggling to find other work without being able to read and write. Fortunately, a neighbour and local builder, Graham Stayt, offered him a couple of days work a week and he really enjoys it. Graham, shown on the left hand side of the picture above, says: “He took to it like a duck to water. He doesn’t mind what he does, and he just seems to know how to do it. He’s a natural”.
It was a conversation with the local council that lead William to Read Easy and after six months he says: “I’m really enjoying it. I like learning and I realise that I’m not stupid at all. I’m getting it! To me, it’s a challenge. Life’s looking up!”