The National Literacy Trust hub in Hastings and REY® paper launch summertime comic book initiative to help children catch up

The National Literacy Trust Hub in Hastings and sustainable paper company REY paper have announced the delivery of more than 150 resource packs to Years 5-7 students in Hastings – with more than 10,000 packs being donated nationwide. The Hub raises awareness of the importance of literacy and encourages reading for pleasure. This activity forms part of the charity’s summer offer to support students as they transition from primary to secondary school. REY paper is contributing 150,000 sheets of paper to the initiative.

Accompanying each pack is the charity’s summer writing challenge: Comics Rule! where children will be asked to design their own comic. The creative writing activity aims at improving writing attitudes and boosting literacy skills. Schools can share students’ comic book designs on Twitter, tagging @Literacy_Trust and #summerwritingchallenge.

Alongside the physical donations, all teaching materials and activity packs such as the summer writing challenge will be available for summer school teachers and children to download for free on the National Literacy Trust’s Words for Life website and signposted on the Oak National Academy website. These are designed with students aged between 10 and 12 in mind.

The National Literacy Trust Hub in Hastings launched in January 2019 to raise awareness of the importance of literacy while improving school readiness in the early years, primary school reading levels and encouraging reading for pleasure.

The Words for Life activity page can be accessed at:

James Beeching of Hastings and the self-righting lifeboat

David Renno has just published his latest book James Beeching of Hastings and the self-righting lifeboat available from the History House, Courthouse Street, the Fishermen’s Museum, Rock-a-Nore Road or at  

James Beeching was born in 1788 into a local Bexhill smuggling family and was the youngest of seven children. It is perhaps not surprising having been born into this environment his attention in later life turned to boats and boat building. He learnt his trade with a Hastings boat builder and eventually had his own very successful boatyard on the town’s beach with partner John Gallop, until 1814. 

Three years later Beeching left the country with his wife and family and made a new life in Vlissingen, Holland and created another very successful boatyard.  He was there for seven years before returning to the UK with his family in 1824 and settled in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk where he again started up yet another successful boatyard. 

During the mid-nineteenth century the number of lives being lost at sea around our coasts was rising considerably and in 1850 there were believed to be seven hundred and eighty-four lives lost from six hundred and eighty-one shipwrecks. It was this statistic that prompted the 4th Duke of Northumberland to sponsor a competition the following year, to find the best lifeboat design. One of the competition’s terms was the lifeboat had to be self-righting. James Beeching submitted a design and was deemed the winner from the two hundred and eighty entries from around the world and claimed the prize of one hundred guineas (£105).

Beeching’s first lifeboat, built to his design, was named the ‘Northumberland’ after the competition sponsor and was stationed at Ramsgate, Kent for fourteen years. Beeching of course was not the only designer/builder of lifeboats but this book is about him and records the numerous boats and lifeboats he and his family built during a century of boatbuilding. 

The book also refers to lifeboat designers that preceded Beeching and others, all of whom played a part in the ultimate design of today’s lifeboat. 

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