Exmouth pensioner looks to pass on newly-found love of storytelling

Ursula Shepherd reading her local paper. Ref exe 49 18TI 6554. Picture: Terry Ife

Ursula Shepherd reading her local paper. Ref exe 49 18TI 6554. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

An Exmouth pensioner who used to need the aid of others to read menus and newspapers is helping Exmouth youngsters to find a love of storytelling.

Ursula Shepherd, 89, was forced to leave school early as a child due to her learning disabilities meaning she was unable to read for herself.

Now she is helping children to enjoy books at Exmouth library as part of the Society of Storytelling’s annual celebration of books.

Ursula will be marking this year’s National Storytelling Week, which began on Saturday (January 26), by reading to her loved ones and building on her newly developed skills.

The pensioner hit national headlines in 2017 after learning to read for the first time at 87 years of age and was named on the learning disability and autism leaders’ list 2018 in the work and education category.

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She said: “I feel so happy I can read now and want to read romance stories one day. I particularly enjoy reading to Lesley (her Shared Lives carer) and others in my household as it’s lovely to hear them say how far I’ve come.

“One of the highlights of the past year was going to the town library and reading to a group of school children who were really complimentary and smiled when I read to them.”

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