Swindon to gain ten Literacy Champion volunteers thanks to large donation

By Jamie Hill - 31 May 2023


Ahead of National Volunteers’ Week, long-standing collaborators The Royal Warrant Holders Association Charity Fund and Smythson — the proud holder of two Royal Warrants — have made a combined large donation to The National Literacy Trust, to train ten Literacy Champion volunteers in Swindon.

The three organisations have teamed up with a mutual mission to support literacy skills for children and families in Swindon.

Utilising its expertise, The National Literacy Trust will train 10 Literacy Champions who are key members of the community: from midwives to faith leaders, football club coaches to childminders. Drawing from their experience and knowledge of the community’s needs, the Literacy Champions will encourage engagement with reading, writing, and communication.

The project highlights Smythson’s ties to Swindon as the location for its primary stationery workshop where many of its skilled artisans reside and have built a livelihood for decades.

In 2022, nearly a quarter of 11-year-olds in Swindon left primary school without reaching the expected levels of reading or writing (22% and 23% respectively). Low literacy skills can go beyond just impacting a child’s success at school; it can impact their relationships as they struggle to communicate, affect their mental wellbeing, their future opportunities and career, and even their life expectancy. Support from the National Literacy Trust at key moments throughout a child’s life can empower them with the literacy skills they need to succeed.

Anish Harrison, Hub Manager for Swindon Stories, said: “The National Literacy Trust’s hub in Swindon was launched in 2018 to support our children and families develop a love of literacy. We did this because by the time children reach reception, some are already 19 months behind their peers in terms of early literacy skills. Literacy Champions are invaluable to this mission. They live and work in the heart of our communities, and help us to build strong, long-lasting, and impactful relationships with people on a local level. The generous donation from Smythson and The Royal Warrant Holders Association Charity Fund will help us improve access to and enjoyment of literacy and improve life chances.”

Literacy Champions in Swindon will engage children and families in a fun and accessible way to encourage a love of reading and writing through everyday activities. This can include setting up free book corners and bookshelves in community spaces that families already frequent, hosting reading and writing clubs, distributing literacy resources and activities, and hosting pop-up book gifting experiences.

Armando MacRory, Smythson Grantee, said: “Given Smythson’s long heritage of producing fine stationery, notebooks, and diaries, it is both fitting and exciting to be able to link with The National Literacy Trust and The Royal Warrant Holders Association Charity Fund on such an important project. It is the sincere wish of all of us at Smythson that this initiative will result in the enrichment of the lives of all those who participate.”

Closely aligned on how they view the sentiment and power of the written word, the ongoing relationship between Smythson and The National Literacy Trust is a strong alliance. Combined with the efforts of The Royal Warrant Holders Association Charity Fund, the literacy driven project will aim to impact many lives throughout Swindon.

Claire Anderson, RWHA Charity Fund Manager, said:  “The Royal Warrant Holders Association Charity Fund donates to local charities in which Warrant-holding companies, or their employees are actively involved. Smythson’s ongoing relationship with The National Literacy Trust enabled them to apply for a match-funding large grant on NLT’s behalf, for a literacy driven project, which we are sure will make such a difference to people’s lives. We look forward to hearing about the impact the project has made.”


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