YOUNG poet Joanne Blandford has raised £1,260 for a Portsmouth charity that supports people with disabilities.
Joanne, who has learning disabilities, collected the cash through sales of her first published book, The Best You Can Be, and has donated it to the Portsmouth Self Advocacy Group.
The 30-year-old, who had the collection of poems published by United Press two years ago, has worked tirelessly to sell the book independently and raise funds for the organisation.
Joanne, of Rochester Road, Southsea, attends a number of classes and workshops at the group, based in the Omega Centre, Somers Town.
She said: ‘The group has helped me so much but it doesn’t have a lot of money.
‘It needs more funds to keep going and I thought this would be a lovely way to help out and say thanks for what it’s done for me.
‘Hopefully with more money the group can be the best it can be, which is the theme of my book.’
The money will go towards the running of the group’s services which supports people with learning disabilities and their families.
The book is available to buy in shops, but Joanne is encouraging people to buy it directly from her so that she can donate the money to the group.
Having sold 618 books, Joanne said she is bowled over by the support she has received.
She said: ‘I can’t believe so many people want to read my poems, it’s amazing.
‘I’ve surprised everyone, even myself – I still can’t believe I have a book published.
‘I always wanted to be a writer since I was a young child, but everyone told me that I couldn’t do it because I had learning disabilities.
‘I believed them and tried to do childcare instead but one day I just thought, “Why can’t I do it?” and started sending poems to the United Press.
‘And after a while they asked me if I could like to publish my own collection.’
To buy The Best You Can Be for £6.50 – with all proceeds going to the group – call (023) 9273 6464.