Hackney Pirates volunteer wins £5000 Pearson Community Award

East London literacy charity to use prize money to fund descriptive story-telling project

The Hackney Pirates have received a £5000 donation after volunteer Sam Prince, nominated the literacy charity for a ‘Pearson Community Award’. Sam, whose job involves developing GCSE, AS and A level qualifications for Pearson, stood out from nearly 80 other applicants from around the world to win an award this year.

The Hackney Pirates works to develop the literacy, confidence and perseverance of over 150 children in years 5, 6 and 7 in East London each year.

Over 250 volunteers support them through reading support and creative literacy projects after school, based in the Pirates’ ‘Ship of Adventures’ in the heart of Hackney, a creative and unconventional learning environment complete with secret passageways, an underwater cave and a ship’s cat.

Students are given the opportunity to work on unique creative publishing projects, working with professionals to write their own books, CDs and websites.

The charity plans to use the award to fund their biggest publishing project to date, ‘”The Escape CD”, a CD featuring the recording of original scripts of 140 young people from the borough. The Young Pirates considered places that are important to them both close to home and further afield and will take the listener on an auditory adventure around the world. Their CD will be available in the charity’s “Ship of Adventures” from next month, with recordings from the project also featuring on East London Radio.

Founding Director (aka Captain) of Hackney Pirates, Catriona Maclay said:
“This award is going to help us bring our creative publishing projects to even more Young Pirates in Hackney. Sam has been a great supporter since 2011. We’re looking forward to using Pearson’s support to reach more young people and have a bigger impact on learning in East London.”

The Young Pirates said: “The CD was hard work. We had to focus and crack our brains, so when it was finished I felt emotional because I hoped people would like it. I liked going to the recording studio as I thought we might become famous.” Tomiwa Olaya, aged 10.

“I felt happy because I hadn't been to a recording studio before. I felt that everyone was special because we heard that famous people had been to the studio.” Shanice Lampkin, aged 10.

Commenting on winning this award, Sam Prince said: “I have been volunteering with the Hackney Pirates since 2011 and am thrilled to have secured this additional contribution for them. As a former English teacher, volunteering is a way to keep working with children and continue using my teaching skills.

“The Pirate Ship is such a fun learning environment and the creative projects on offer inspire the young people and the volunteers equally. You never know what will be happening next and you can see the children developing confidence, new skills and a pride for what they’ve achieved.”

Kate James, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Pearson, said: “Hackney Pirates is an inspiring organisation with a fantastic mission. The drive and commitment embodied by Catriona Maclay and her team are clearly helping young people achieve more. There were so many impressive applications this year that choosing the winners was a tough decision, but Sam’s passion for her work at Hackney Pirates really stood out.”

All Pearson employees who volunteer for a charity on a regular basis are encouraged to apply for the Community Awards. As well as the donation towards their chosen charity, winners receive a pledge for on-going mentoring support from the education company. Pearson gives each of its 40,000 employees around the world the right to take up to three days paid leave to volunteer each year.

Other winners of the award include the Bridging Hearts Foundation in South Africa, Iowa Tech Chicks, from the USA, and Instituto Padre Haroldo in Brazil, which supports orphanages and other institutions in Brazil.

Notes to editors

For pictures of Hackney Pirates and the Ship of Adventures site in Hackney, please contact Catriona Maclay: catriona@hackneypirates.org / 0789 480 5823

Pearson: tom.steiner@pearson.com / 07787 415 891