Maidstone volunteer awarded for a decade of helping inspire children to become confident readers 22 May 2018 A man who has been volunteering as a reading helper at a Maidstone primary school for ten years has been recognised for his incredible contribution at the Kent Teacher of the Year Awards 2018. Alvin Shaw from Maidstone was named as Volunteer of the Year for the Maidstone district at the prestigious award ceremony which took place at the Mercure Great Danes Hotel last Friday and marked the vital contribution that teaching staff make to the local community. Categories included awards for primary, secondary, newly qualified teacher, non-teaching members of staff, including dinner ladies and caretakers, and a volunteer award. Just over ten years ago Alvin trained to become a volunteer with reading charity Beanstalk and ever since has been visiting a local primary school twice a week to help children with their reading. Beanstalk recruits, trains and supports volunteers to work one-to-one with children aged 3 to 13 in a variety of ways, turning them into confident, passionate and able readers. Malou Bengtsson-Wheeler, Area Manager for Beanstalk South East, was at the awards ceremony to see Alvin receive his well-deserved award. “We are absolutely delighted to see Alvin recognised for his dedication to helping so many children overcome struggles with reading. He is such a prime example of why bringing members of the community into the schools works so well. The reading helpers tell us how much they get from the experience themselves, while the improvement in the children’s reading confidence and love of books is transformed. As always we love coming to and supporting the Kent Teacher of the Year Awards. It is so important to recognise the incredible work teachers and school staff do to help children reach for the stars, and we are so proud to see volunteers such as Alvin included in this celebration.” Alvin said: “I am truly proud to be included in a group of teaching professionals for whom I have the upmost respect. I thoroughly enjoy working with all the pupils I support, especially those at Park Way Primary. The school's management team, all the staff and Beanstalk have always been extremely supportive in everything I do. When I first volunteered ten years ago I could never have envisaged how it would develop. Thanks for giving me the opportunity.” Beanstalk needs more members of the community from across the South East to help children that have fallen behind with reading. To find out more about volunteering with Beanstalk please take a look at our volunteering page.