18 February 2014
The Duchess of Cornwall served time behind bars last week, when she visited HMP Coldingley, Surrey, as part of Quick Reads.
The Duchess is pictured with (from left to right) Simon Kernick, author of the Quick Reads title Wrong Time, Wrong Place; Sue Price, Education Manager at HMP Coldingley; and Cathy Rentzenbrink, Project Director of Quick Reads.
One in six adults of working age in the UK finds reading difficult, and in prisons the figure rises to every other person. Last year saw the launch of a pilot project in partnership with the Reading Agency: One Quick Read, One Prison is part of the annual Six Book Challenge, for which some 7,000 prisoners from about 100 prisons across the UK had registered by the close of the year.
Coldingley is a category C prison for adult males and is focused on the resettlement of prisoners who are about to be released. Their crimes range from petty theft to murder.
A reading group of seven prisoners, hosted by Price, together with Kernick and the Duchess, took place in the prison library. The Duchess quizzed the inmates as to whether the shorter format Quick Reads had got them reading for the first time. She said she hoped they would move on to longer books in time. In turn, they asked her which authors she would recommend. “Robert Harris. I love a good thriller and he is brilliant. Robert Harris and Jo Nesbo,” replied the Patron of the National Literacy Trust, Booktrust and First Story, which all promote literacy in young people.
The Duchess met inmate Daniel Snelling, who has recorded bedtime stories for his three sons to help maintain the bond with his children. Snelling played the final version of his reading of Pumpkin Soup. “They’ll really love that,” she assured him.