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Findochty Primary celebrate two-in-a-row triumphs at First Minister's Reading Challenge


By Alan Beresford

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FINDOCHTY Primary have claimed a major national reading award for the second year running.

P7 Reading Journey winner Lily-Mae Doyle (right) with highly commended winners Harper Ferguson, Caleb Watt and Callan Paterson.
P7 Reading Journey winner Lily-Mae Doyle (right) with highly commended winners Harper Ferguson, Caleb Watt and Callan Paterson.

Lily-Mae Doyle was definitely on the right page when it came to claiming the P7 Reading Journey title in the annual First Minister's Reading Challenge.

The judges loved hearing about how reading has helped her mental health and find a new way to unwind. The panel thought this submission was incredibly brave and eloquent and were really delighted to hear that Lily-Mae feels reading has helped her become a better person.

Last year's P6 Reading Journey winner, Caleb Watt, was determined not to be left out of things this time around, earning a highly commended in the P7 category.

Also scooping a highly commended in the P7 section was Callan Paterson, with Harper Ferguson doing likewise in the P5 category.

Headteacher Dawn Thomson said: "We're delighted that we've pulled it off again in the First Minister's Reading Challenge, it really is an incredible achievement.

"The whole school is very proud of Lily-Mae, Caleb, Callan and Harper.

"We are extremely proud of the achievements of all our readers, their journeys have been a joy to be part of. We believe that reading has the power to change their lives, to expand their imaginations, to take them to places they have never been and to help them find calm and solace in an ever-changing world.

"Developing a love of reading in childhood can have a huge impact on educational attainment and future wellbeing. Promoting reading for pleasure and building our reading culture has helped to improve focus, memory, empathy, and communication skills. It has helped to reduce stress and anxiety and improved mental health across our learning community.

"It's very encouraging for everyone at the school to see achievements like these. It shows that with a bit of hard work and determination you can achieve what you want to."

Lily-Mae said: "Reading puts you away from other stuff. It helps distract you from your problems.

"It gives me a clearer mind space and helps my anxiety.”

News of the youngsters' triumphs was welcomed by local councillors Sonya Warren and Neil McLennan.

Councillor Warren commented: "It's great to see pupils from Findochty Primary again enjoying such success on the national stage.

"They were up against competition from schools across the country so this is a wonderful achievement.

"This is the second year in a row Findochty pupils have won in this competition and it just goes to show how small schools can punch above their weight in a national contest.

"My congratulations go to Lily-Mae, Caleb, Callan and Harper."

Councillor McLennan said: “Well done to all who have won awards.

"I look forward to visiting the school soon to see the good work ongoing there. Improving reading is vital to success locally, nationally and internationally and we are looking at lots of ways to improve this essential foundation for life.

"For now, we have much to celebrate in these successes – well done Lily-Mae and Caleb!”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon thanked all those involved in this year's challenge.

She added: “We know that reading contributes hugely to educational attainment and future wellbeing – but it can also foster empathy, creativity and confidence by opening our eyes to new perspectives and possibilities.

“The aim of the Reading Challenge is to support children and young people to develop and expand on a love of reading, and I am absolutely delighted that nearly 600 schools, libraries, and community groups across Scotland took part this year.

“I want to thank all the parents and teachers for their efforts to get children and families involved – and congratulate this year’s winners and everyone who participated for all the hard work and imagination they brought to this year’s challenge.”


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