The Repair Shop: BBC documentary of presenter Jay Blades learning to read at 51 welcomed by Read Easy Portsmouth

A DOCUMENTARY showing a broadcaster learning to read as an adult has been welcomed by a charity.

Tuesday, 25th January 2022, 4:55 am

Jay Blades, presenter of BBC show The Repair Shop, will feature in a new show called Jay Blades: Learning to Read at 51.

The furniture restorer concealed his inability to read until his 30s, but has now teamed up with Read Easy UK to document his journey of improving his literacy.

Louise Bullivant, team leader for Read Easy Portsmouth, hopes the show will encourage other adults to learn how to read.

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The Repair Shop presenter concealed his inability to read until he was in his 30s. Picture Shows: Jay Blades - (C) Hungry Bear - Photographer: Ben Gregory King.

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She said: ‘We’re so grateful to Jay for allowing the cameras to follow his journey of learning to read as an adult with Read Easy.

‘By publicly sharing his story we hope that it will inspire adults in Portsmouth who struggle with reading to come forward and access our support.

‘It’s free and confidential, and as those in the programme showcase it can lead to so many positive life changes.’

The documentary will be broadcast on January 26, on BBC One and BBC iPlayer, at 9pm. Picture Shows: Jay Blades - (C) Hungry Bear - Photographer: Ben Gregory King.

Mr Blades struggled with literacy as a child and that persisted as he grew up.

He was too embarrassed to admit his problems, and the show highlights other adults facing the same challenges.

One of them is Jeff George, 31, who wanted to support his child and improve his own life.

He said: ‘The most important thing for me is to be able to read stories to my son who has just started school, that’s my goal.

‘I’d also like to be able to understand more in work and have other options career-wise for the future.

Reading will open those doors for me.

‘If I have a chance of something better I’m going to take it.’

According to Read Easy UK, nearly seven million adults in the UK have very poor literacy skills.

Over 1,100 volunteers work with the charity to provide one-to-one reading lessons, including in Portsmouth.

Ginny Williams-Ellis, CEO of Read Easy UK, said 2.4m adults in England cannot read at all, or can barely read.

She said undiagnosed or unsupported dyslexia, unidentified sight or hearing problems, or a lack of support from parents or carers are some of the reasons behind the statistics.

Ms Williams-Ellis added: ‘Not being able to read as an adult is excruciatingly embarrassing for most people.

‘It generally follows years of painful humiliation at school, when failure to learn to read in the early years will have led to an inability to participate in the rest of the curriculum as they got older.

‘I would urge any adult who is unable to read properly to have the courage to come forward, like Jay, and ask for help.

‘It really is never too late to learn.’

The documentary, Jay Blades: Learning to Read at 51, will broadcast on Wednesday, at 9pm, on BBC One and iPlayer.

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