Dermot O'Leary visits Essex school to kick off reading campaign

Dermot O'Leary at Thomas More's Primary School, Colchester, Essex

Dermot O'Leary at St Thomas More's Primary School, Colchester for Essex year of reading event and showcasing his new book, Toto, The Ninja cat. - Credit: Brittany Woodman

Former X Factor host Dermot O'Leary visited St Thomas More's Primary School in Colchester on Tuesday (March 15), encouraging students to take part in the Essex Year of Reading.    

Set up by the Essex education taskforce, the year of reading is a £1million project aimed at encouraging children and adults to read regularly.  

Former Colchester schoolboy Dermot O'Leary gave the children of Thomas More's a storytelling session from his own latest book, 'Toto the Ninja Cat and the Legend of the Wildcat'.

Dermot O'Leary at St Thomas More's Primary School, Colchester for Essex year of reading event and sh

The campaign is aimed at making sure that every Essex child leaves school being able to read at their age level or higher. - Credit: Brittany Woodman

Dermot O'Leary at St Thomas More's Primary School, Colchester for Essex year of reading event and sh

Dermot spoke to the children at Thomas More's as part of the £1 million project, the Essex year of reading. - Credit: Brittany Woodman

The radio and TV presenter said: “The Essex Year of Reading is a wonderful campaign set-up to help children catch-up after missing time in the classroom due to Covid-19, while inspiring a lifelong love of reading.

“It’s great to see children enjoying reading and as a parent, I know how important it is to read to children from a very young age. My dad used to read old Irish fairy tales to me and my sister and he’d take me to Colchester Library every Saturday.

"I had a great teacher at primary school who helped me learn to read. I’ll never forget when I began to read independently.

"The page-turning joy of Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl! I loved to write when I was a kid too. I’d write little detective stories and try to sell them to the neighbours to get sweet money!”

Dermot O'Leary at St Thomas More's Primary School, Colchester for Essex year of reading event and sh

The former X factor host used to be a schoolboy in Essex. - Credit: Brittany Woodman

Dermot O'Leary at St Thomas More's Primary School, Colchester for Essex year of reading event and sh

Dermot gave the children a storytelling session from his latest book. - Credit: Brittany Woodman

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The campaign, which includes events like author visits and other activities is aimed at ensuring that every child in Essex leaves school able to read at their age level or higher.

Tony Ball, Essex County Council’s cabinet member for education excellence, lifelong learning and employability, said: “We’re delighted to be joined by Dermot O’Leary, he’s been outstanding with his support and dedication to help us show children that reading is fun.

“We’re working hard to provide as much support for schools and pupils as we can. We know children and young people have missed out on learning opportunities during the pandemic and we’re here to help everyone get back on track.”