Bestselling author Martina Cole has been visiting workplaces and prisons in Scotland and the north of England to help our Six Book Challenge adult literacy programme achieve its goal of reaching 50,000 participants in 2015.
Martina, acknowledged as the queen of crime drama, is an official ambassador for the Six Book Challenge. Her new novel The Good Life is published on 9 October and follows the success of her 21st novel Revenge, which was a No. 1 bestseller in hardback and paperback. Her books have sold over 13 million copies in total and in 2011 she became the first British female novelist to surpass the £50 million sales mark since records began.
Challenge breaks down barriers at NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde
Her week began with a visit to the Theatre Sterile Services Unit for the NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde in Greenock. Here a group of employees received their Six Book Challenge certificates along with librarian Tracey McKee (pictured here with Martina) who has won an award from the NHS for her outreach work with the scheme. Myra Houghton, Attendance Support Health & Well-being Officer in Facilities Directorate, commented: "Facilities staff can miss out on activities. The Six Book Challenge has helped to show that our library service is for everybody." This year NHSGGC has won a gold award from The Reading Agency for supporting 156 employees to complete the scheme.
Then it was the turn of staff at the Royal Alexandra Hospital to get their books signed and pose with their certificates. This included medical photographer Simon Wells (right of picture) who said: "I'm quite new to the hospital so this seemed a way to get to know people. I never read much before but this has got me reading - plus I'm competitive! It breaks down barriers too. Doctors see the book you're reading and it's a conversation starter."
Martina gives support to prison libraries
Martina then went on to visit two prisons in Scotland - HMP Barlinnie and HMP Shotts - where she received a warm welcome from governors, staff and offenders. Prison officers turned library staff Ewen Grant and Barry Richardson run the Six Book Challenge at HMP Barlinnie and have won a bronze award for supporting 54 offenders to complete the scheme this year.
Martina encouraged offenders to try their hand at writing and talked about her own love of reading and her support for the Challenge. "I'm proud to be associated with this scheme," said Martina. "I greatly enjoy meeting new faces at workplaces and prisons and hearing first-hand what a difference the Six Book Challenge had made to participants and how much more confident they feel about reading," says Martina Cole.
"Martina is a fantastic advocate for the Six Book Challenge," says David Kendall, who leads on our work in prisons and workplaces. "Her enthusiasm and rapport with participants is matched only by the breadth and diversity of her own reading. She's already proved a big hit in prisons, where she's been the most popular author for years, and also in workplaces running the Challenge. Meeting a bestselling author like Martina has been a fantastic bonus for those taking part in the Six Book Challenge."
Martina continues her tour with visits to further prisons and workplaces in the north of England.
You can see more photos from the tour on our Facebook page.
Main photo of Martina Cole by Charlotte Murphy
Please see our resources page or contact Genevieve Clarke if you'd like to know more about running the Six Book Challenge. Packs of reading diaries, certificates and publicity items are available in our shop including bilingual materials for use in Wales.