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The Royal Association: The Duchess of Cornwall-National Literacy Trust

Since 2010, Camilla has been Patron of the National Literacy Trust.

The trust was founded by Sir Simon Hornby, the former chairperson of WHSmith PLC, the British retailer in 1992. Sir Simon as trustee of the British Dyslexia Association, became concerned about the state of literacy in the UK. He commissioned a report on the possibility of forming a national literacy programme for the country.

In 1992, Sir Simon began his search for the proper individual who would be able to develop his idea into a national organisation. He chose Usha Prashar, now Baroness Prashar of Runnymede. Baroness Prashar was the former director of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and possessed the qualities Sir Simon was searching for to guide the organisation.

The National Literacy Trust works to enhance the reading, writing, speaking and listening skills in the UK’s most underprivileged areas. These areas have close to 40 percent of people affected by literacy problems.

It is well-known that Camilla is an ardent reader and has a keen interest in promoting the advantages of reading both to children and adults alike. Hosting numerous literacy events, The Duchess has sat and read to children as well as met with adult readers eager to improve their literacy skills.

In 2012, during World Book Day, Camilla noted: “There is nothing quite like the thrill of opening a book and being drawn into another world to meet new people and to discover their stories – it’s like making new friends.”

In October 2013, The Duchess launched the National Literacy Trust’s ten ‘Literacy Heroes’ campaign. The campaign began after research disclosed that children feel somewhat ashamed if others see them reading. “The campaign was designed to celebrate inspiring individuals from all walks of life who have either made a significant impact on the reading skills of others or overcome problems with literacy themselves,” noted Clarence House.

“I firmly believe in the importance of igniting a passion for reading in the next generation. I was lucky enough to have a father who was a fervent bibliophile and a brilliant storyteller too. He read to us each night and transported us into different worlds – from the irresistible lure of Mr McGregor’s garden to battles for Toad Hall or close encounters with the dreaded Captain Hook. Every book was a promise of something new and exciting,” The Duchess commented during the launch of the campaign.

Camilla continued: “In a world where the written word competes with so many other calls on our attention, we need more Literacy Heroes to keep inspiring young people to find the pleasure and power of reading for themselves. I look forward to hearing about your heroes who, like my father, have had such an impact on the opportunities, aspirations and happiness of others through the vital skill of literacy.”

A few months later, in December of 2013, The Duchess held a reception at Clarence House to announce the National Literacy Trust’s ten ‘Literacy Heroes’ campaign. Henry Winkler and Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling were two of the ‘heroes’ in attendance that day along with the winning youngsters in this inaugural event celebrating literacy.

In March 2014, Camilla visited The City Academy for a celebratory event with the “Words for Work” programme in London.

The ‘Words for Work’ programme focus and goal is to assist young people to obtain gainful employment.

“It is a school-based intervention that is offered to students before they start on the journey of exams, interviews and job seeking. Words for Work focuses on improving student’s literacy skills helps them to develop crucial employability skills and teaches them confidence in their own abilities,” according to the National Literacy Trust.

Camilla is never too shy to sit down at the many literacy events, including library openings or re-dedications and join in the fun, reading to children. She has noted that one of her great joys is to sit down and read to her grandchildren.

Featured photo credit: Royal Central 2014

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