A machine operator from Salisbury has become the first Salisbury graduate of literacy charity “Read Easy.”

Read Easy provides volunteer-led reading coaching programmes for adults that are free, with a one-to-one approach, they have been running in South and East Wiltshire for two years.

Gary Green, 52, got in touch with Read Easy in 2022 after deciding that he wanted to learn to read.

After 19 months, with the help of Sara Crook, a coach with South and East Wiltshire Read Easy, Gary finished his learning on Tuesday, April 30 this year.

Salisbury Journal: Sara Crook and Gary Green at Alabaré, where they held their two half-hour sessions every week

For Gary, school was difficult because of his inability to read. After leaving school in 1989 with no qualifications, he accepted it as just a part of his life.

He said: “When I was at school, I was at the back of the class, I didn’t want to learn, I wanted to muck about. I was picked on when I went to other schools because I wasn’t good at reading or writing.

“It was hard. When I went to a library, there would be a load of my friends and if I tried to read, I would get very frustrated and angry. I just wanted to read proper, grown-up books.”

Salisbury Journal: Sara and Gary celebrate at The Pheasant party

Before starting, he could still barely read, but now he reads magazines, newspapers and books – even reading Winnie the Pooh with his niece. He now hopes to pass his driving test and can also use computers more effectively.

Sara said: “Initially, when we started, he was very reserved and nervous and I was a bit anxious as well. I didn’t know how it was going to go but quite quickly, I think, we got to grip with things and it’s been a really, really useful experience for both of us.

“And it’s been lovely to see how Gary has progressed in a variety of ways, not just with reading.”

Salisbury Journal: Gary with his Read Easy certificate during the party at The Pheasant with friends, family,

Gary has said that learning to read has made him more confident and relaxed and he borrows books from Salisbury Library every week. To celebrate, he staged a surprise party on Saturday, May 11 for friends, family and colleagues to celebrate learning to read, thanks to the mentoring of Sara.

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He is proud of his achievement and now wants to get other people to take up the course as an ambassador for Read Easy.

If you would like to volunteer, learn to read or find out more call 07942 382318, or visit: Read Easy South & East Wiltshire - ReadEasy.