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Former hostage says ‘books can set you free’

Author and humanitarian Terry Waited treated pupils to a special story-time session as a reward for their impressive performance with reading reward scheme Buster’s Book Club.

Terry Waite with pupils from New Line Learning Academy (12689136)
Terry Waite with pupils from New Line Learning Academy (12689136)

The former special envoy for the archbishop of Canterbury read an excerpt from his book, Taken on Trust, to children at New Line Learning Academy in Maidstone and its feeder school Tiger Primary.

The book details the story behind the near five-year period Mr Waite spent as a hostage in the Middle East, and was composed by him mentally while he was in captivity.

Both New Line Learning Academy and Tiger Primary take part in Buster’s Book Club, which is run by the KM Charity Team. Mr Waite is an honorary patron for the educational charity.

A number of pupils at the schools were presented with special awards and named as Literacy Stars in recognition of their enthusiastic engagement with Buster’s.

Also present at the story-time session was Caroline McBride, head of community development at Golding Homes, which has provided a grant to support the initiative.

The academy uses an innovative template to interact with Buster’s, which involves working in partnership with its feeder schools. Golding is keen to see other secondary schools in Kent adopt the model.

Mr Waite stressed the potential for literacy to promote personal wellbeing, saying that the time he had previously spent reading played a crucial role in sustaining him during his captivity.

He added: “The importance of language is something we shouldn’t underestimate. Good language has the capacity to breathe harmony into the soul like good music.

“Reading and memory and language all play such an important part in enabling us to live a more fulfilled and happy life.”

His comments were echoed by Tiger Primary pupil Owen McGrath, who said: “Reading makes you calm. It makes me feel positive about myself, and it just makes me feel happy.”

Golding Homes’ Caroline McBride said: “We have a passion for encouraging literacy and learning, and New Line Learning have earned the privilege of having Terry Waite here today.

“He’s such an inspiration, and he made it very clear that reading is not only something that can be a pleasure, but it can unlock so many other learning and education opportunities.”

Buster’s Book Club uses competitions and other incentives to encourage primary school pupils to spend more time reading for pleasure at home.

Prizes include a Class of the Week Trophy, celebrity story-time visits, and tickets to visitor and leisure attractions such as Wildwood animal park, Diggerland and Leeds Castle.

Besides Golding Homes, it is supported by Gatwick Airport, the Ernest Cook Trust, Little Cheyne Court wind farm, the Kent Community Foundation, Orbit, Medway and Kent councils, Specsavers, Leeds Castle, Diggerland, Hornby, Wildwood, Rotary, Acorns Read and Grow, the Crown Foundation, the Gibbons Family Trust and Westwood Cross.

Find out more about Buster’s Book Club at bustersbookclub.co.uk. Any schools keen to sign up with the scheme should contact Buster’s Book Club literacy coordinator Kay Devine at KDevine@thekmgroup.co.uk or on 0844 264 0291.

And watch a video about Mr Waite’s visit here:

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