I learned to read in my forties and it gave me a second chance at life

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46-year-old Peter Lloyd was determined to be able to read the Harry Potter series.

A Merseyside dad-of-two says he's been 'given another chance at life' after learning to read in his forties.

Peter Lloyd, 46, says he always felt 'embarrassed' and would struggle doing everyday activities because he couldn't read. But, after signing up for one-to-one coaching with a charity that teaches adults to read, he was able to achieve one of his life goals and read the Harry Potter series.

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Born partially deaf, Peter, of Southport, struggled with his work at school and focused more on sport, so he was never taught how to read. It left him having to plan his days out around every day things such as avoiding unfamiliar car parks because he couldn't read the signs. "I was embarrassed and it would cause anxiety and depression and all sorts of horrible issues,” he said.

Tasks such as going to the supermarket were incredibly difficult for Peter, as he relied on finding items based on where they were in the shop and if categories got moved to different aisles, he wouldn’t be able to read the signage to find them.

Peter's wife Cheryl, 40, and oldest son Callum, 21, persuaded him to contact charity Read Easy after seeing information about them online, and his life changed forever. He said: "I feel like I've had another chance at life. I feel like I've been reborn. It's like I've had a really bad illness, I've fought it and now I've got a second chance that I never thought I would have.

Peter Lloyd, 46, who learnt to read in his forties. Image: Peter Lloyd/SWNSPeter Lloyd, 46, who learnt to read in his forties. Image: Peter Lloyd/SWNS
Peter Lloyd, 46, who learnt to read in his forties. Image: Peter Lloyd/SWNS | Courtesy Peter Lloyd / SWNS

"I want to go back to different places that I've been to before because it's as if I was blind before, because I couldn't see things. I now look around and can read signs and see buildings and different things, it's like things are standing out in front of me. The knowledge I'm getting is unbelievable. My wife and my children feel like I can support myself better because they don't have to worry about me as much - it's fantastic."

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When Peter started working with Read Easy volunteer Alison Hollinrake, his goal was to read the Harry Potter book series. They started reading the first two books together and now he's reading the third novel - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Talking about his progress, Peter said: "There was one time I looked at the Harry Potter book and I just couldn't understand it but I had watched all the films so I wanted to read the books. They are 100% better than the films and I'm really into the books now - it's fantastic.

"I never thought I would be able to read them - when I first started going to Read Easy, someone in year five at school would have been better than me. I can reply to emails now and if I get a letter in the post, then I can read it which is just fantastic.

Peter Lloyd, 46, with Read Easy volunteer Alison Hollinrake. Image: Peter Llyod/SWNSPeter Lloyd, 46, with Read Easy volunteer Alison Hollinrake. Image: Peter Llyod/SWNS
Peter Lloyd, 46, with Read Easy volunteer Alison Hollinrake. Image: Peter Llyod/SWNS | Courtesy Peter Lloyd / SWNS

Adding that Read Easy have given him ‘confidence’, Peter can now go to the supermarket and choose different foods to try, as well as experimenting with recipe books. His next goal is to study GCSE English at college and eventually become a Read Easy mentor.

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He said: "I'll be doing my level one and two English and then I'll be able to do my GCSE English. Then I want to do creative writing and once I've done all that, I want to go full circle and sit at that table with a learner and I'm going to become a coach. When my learner tells me that I don't understand, I can tell them that I have and that I will get them through this.

"People who can read and write, have never known not being able to read and write so it's hard for someone to say they understand. I want to help change people's lives and help people grow."

Describing his mentor, Alison, as his ‘guardian angel’, Peter is now encouraging other people to contact Read This if they need support. He added: "It doesn't matter if you are young or old, or if you feel embarrassed, depressed or anxious. If you give them a call then it will change your life."

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