Celebrating a local Coronation Champion

Norfolk Reading Project Co-Founder, Anne Thorley, has been made one of 500 Coronation Champions in the UK.

In honour of Their Majesties’ service to the country, Royal Voluntary Service launched the Coronation Champions Awards to recognise and celebrate extraordinary volunteers across the country who have been contributing to their communities.

Anne Thorley received the Coronation Champion Award in recognition of her work leading the Norfolk Reading Project, a local charity whose aim is to improve literacy standards across Norfolk by providing trained volunteers to support children’s reading on a one-to-one basis within Primary Schools. Since being established in 2015, Anne has played a critical role in driving the charity forward and inspiring over 400 volunteers across the county to step up and offer their time help children build their confidence and improve their literacy, ensuring they have the best start in life.

Previously a pharmacist, Anne not only conducts all training sessions to equip volunteers with the skills they need to support children on a one to one basis, but also goes into a Primary School weekly herself to work with children on their reading skills, alongside the day-to-day work involved in running the charity.

After it was recognised that Great Yarmouth and Thetford were particular areas of need, a grant from Norfolk Community Foundation’s New Endeavours Rangers Fund awarded in 2021 enabled the Norfolk Reading Project to expand their volunteering efforts. Since then the charity has also been supported by the Foundation’s ProHelp initiative, with Graham Hays from HComs helping to create a database of volunteers to help Anne and the Trustees further coordinate activity as the Project seeks to meet the demand from schools for more and more volunteers.

Anne Thorley with her Coronation Champion certificate and pin

“My first thought when I found out I’d received this award was of all the people that had helped make it possible – they deserve it! We have a very proactive team of Trustees who are all volunteers and without whom the charity wouldn’t function. There’s a volunteer in his 70s who goes into a school three times a week. And then one of our volunteers is nearly 80 and helps to coordinate our other volunteers, checks on how they’re feeling and what they need, and helps get the word out about our work. The Norfolk Reading Project couldn’t do what it does without those volunteers who go into schools and sit with children week after week. This award is for them.”

Anne Thorley, Norfolk Reading Project

Feel inspired to get involved and change a child’s future, today?

In the UK 16.4% of adults have very poor literacy skills – one of the highest rates in the developed world. Low literacy runs along the fault-lines in a society, and in England this fault-line is deprivation. In certain areas of Norfolk, 1 in 4 children leaving school are unable to read. At Norfolk Community Foundation, we have been working with the Norfolk Reading Project, alongside the National Literacy Trust, to challenge the idea that low literacy is inevitable in areas of high deprivation with The Literacy Project.

“I have been stunned by the progress that some of the children have made … it was as if someone had switched the lights on.”

Reading Support Volunteer

Our aim is to improve literacy, so our young people are better equipped to deal with the world around them both now and in the future. Inspired by the success so far working alongside the Norfolk Reading Project, we want to support even more children – but we need people to step up and volunteer their time to be a reading buddy. Please do get in touch with us if this is something you would be interested in, or speak to info@thenorfolkreadingproject.co.uk.

A woman sits in a library reading to a little boy