Ron from West Sussex shares his experiences of life in the Navy, and joining Reading Friends.
Why Reading Friends?
I grew up in Preston and left school at age 14 during the Second World War. In my final six months of school we did a lot of gardening, and I didn’t get a chance to read because of it. In those days we had to pay for further schooling, and my family didn’t have the means for me to continue so I started working to help them financially.
It was a different time back then, and I got a job a few days after finishing school. A few years later, at age 20, I got a job in the forces as a submarine engineer. Training was very interesting, and we learnt how to escape from a submarine. The pay was good in the forces, and we also got paid a little extra from the captain.
When Heather (our volunteer) started Reading Friends at the care home where I now live, I decided to go. Education has always been important to me, and through the programme I have developed my outlook on life. I am learning things I didn’t know, which is always good for you.
How has reading with someone else made you feel?
‘Ecstatic. You feel different things when someone reads to you.’Ron
I am unable to read because I’m partially sighted, but I would probably read on my own if I could.
What happens in an average Reading Friends session?
I’ve been taking part in the programme since it started, and we have two sessions that vary in size depending on who’s available at the time. We have about eight people in an average session, and we select books that the volunteer readers come in and read to us. We’re reading a book about someone who used to live in our care home at the moment and was in the armed forces. He trained people in demolition and his son published a book about him.
What do you think reading can do for people who might feel lonely?
“It can do quite a lot. Reading can give you information that you’ve never had before and if it interests you, you can pursue it.”