Oxfam-sponsored radio host reads 1,000 books in 1,000 days and raises over £1,000 for Gosport schools
Sean Blackman, minister of Freedom Church in Gosport, delivered 40 boxes of books to St Mary’s Catholic Primary School and Peel Common Primary School last week.
After what became a three-year challenge to read a book a day, Sean won support from the local community, including the Oxfam bookshop in Fareham.
Sixty-year-old Sean said: ‘I have just walked into the Oxfam bookshop in Fareham. I told them what I was doing, the manager just said, ‘How can we help you?’
With the help of Fareham regional manager Veronica Raymond and Southampton branch store manager Gustavo Velez Zabala, the charity donated 40 boxes of books for Sean to deliver to schools in Gosport.
Sean said: “It’s just about serving children in a way that really makes a difference. It wouldn’t have been possible without Oxfam, they were absolutely outstanding.
“There are more books to deliver, so I need more schools now.”
Clanfield’s community collection for Ukrainian refugees arrives safely in Poland
Sean, also a host on Gosport Hospital Radio, first decided to change his reading habits in 2016 when he pledged to read 30 books in 30 days, after deciding he was spending too much time playing games like Angry Birds on his phone.
He said: “I realized that I spent more than two months on games during the year. I thought – I have to change my way of life, from then on I never played another game.
After taking on the challenge, Sean decided to up the stakes, with a plan to first read 100 books a day and then 1,000 in 1,000 days.
“I would get up around 4 a.m. to do two or three hours of reading,” Sean said.
“Little books like Mr Men came in handy in the days when I was browsing the Bible.”
As governor of Grange Junior School, Sean took on the challenge of encouraging students to read, becoming a driving force behind it as they tried to compete with him.
“Parents came back to me and said they had never seen them so motivated and it had ignited their children’s desire to read,” he adds.
Along the way, Sean dressed up as characters from the books he read, including Hungry Caterpillar, The Chronicles of Narnia and War and Peace.
“People thought I was crazy – and I probably am!”
Having reached his goal in July 2019 – almost three years later – and raised over £1,000 during his efforts, Sean is still keen to help donate books to schools in the area.
“I was over the moon, wanting to do more to help encourage kids to read by getting books into schools,” Sean said.
“I’m back to reading at a slower pace now.”