(Above: Six Book Challenge Ambassador Martina Cole with David Kendall from The Reading Agency. Credit Tom Parkes)
Reading has the power to transform lives at sea as well as on land, as international bestselling author Martina Cole discovered today, when she visited the Marine Society to celebrate their success in bringing our Six Book Challenge to seafarers worldwide.
Martina is our official Ambassador of the 2014 Six Book Challenge, and her own father was a merchant seaman. She helped deliver a consignment of books to Marine Society's riverside central London offices, in readiness for their launch of the Six Book Challenge this year.
Supplying ships with books
Martina also heard about what the 2013 Six Book Challenge had meant to long-haul seafarers after Marine Society sent out books to crews on over 40 container ships. The Six Book Challenge supports Marine Society's belief that seafarers deserve access to career and life-enhancing education through to professional development, making sure nobody misses out wherever they are in the world.
Seafarers on long voyages value books, particularly in hard copy. Marine Society stock non-fiction and fictional libraries on board ships, amongst which Martina Cole's bestselling novels are very popular.
"My love of books is all down to my merchant seaman father," Martina said. "I remember when I was a small child him bringing home from his travels a cardboard theatre, and when I opened the faux crimson velvet curtains, hidden away behind them were the smallest books I had ever seen. The stories were all Aesop fables and fairy tales and I was absolutely entranced. As I got older, the subject matter progressed and I remember pouncing on his bag as soon as he was back from a trip to devour the latest bestseller - Harold Robbins was an eye-opener!" (Above: Martina Cole. Credit Tom Parkes)
Catching the reading bug
Mark Jackson, book services manager at Marine Society, said: "We are delighted to support the Six Book Challenge. Being at sea can be a lonely time, but reading a book opens up a world of imagination far away from their cabin. Often seafarers find comfort in reading, but many find this simple pleasure intimidating and difficult. The Six Book Challenge is a fantastic opportunity for seafarers to pick up a book and catch the reading bug."
"A fascination with the sea has produced many wonderful books from Moby Dick to Claire Francis' Woman Alone. We think the Marine Society is the perfect nautical partner for the Six Book Challenge. With our Ambassador Martina Cole at the prow we are confident that a love of reading and a culture of learning are being taken right around the world," says David Kendall, who leads our Six Book Challenge activity in workplaces.
If you would like to take part in the 2014 Six Book Challenge contact genevieve.Clarke@readingagency.org.uk and we'll put you in touch with an organisation in your area who is running it.
Visit the website for Six Book Challenge participants at readingagency.org.uk/sixbookchallenge.
Organisations planning to run the Six Book Challenge in 2014 can order materials from our shop and find guidance and templates on our resources page.