Viv Bird of Booktrust

The departing chief executive of the literacy charity feels she is leaving the organisation in good shape and has achieved all she can in the role

Viv Bird
Viv Bird

My career was not planned. I have two children and one was seriously ill, so my work took a back seat. I never expected to become the chief executive of a charity, but volunteering has always been important to me, allowing me to take time out and contribute to society.

I've been a volunteer for 30 years, including sitting as a magistrate and being a school governor. I'm especially proud to have been appointed chair of governors at a failing school – I held the post for 13 years and, in 2006, it was declared the most improved secondary school in England.

I've always been motivated by wanting to do more and do better. My background as an adult literacy tutor helped me to understand the challenges of not being able to read and how self-limiting it is to people. My 13 years at the National Literacy Trust helped me to appreciate on a strategic level what was needed to improve literacy and has helped me to fight for continued funding for initiatives at Booktrust.

My advice to other charity leaders is to remember that you should be working to improve the lives of people who need the most help. It's essential to stay focused on this and not to get distracted by things that are not as important.

Booktrust does wonderful work and I'm leaving a job that I enjoy, but at a good time, with funding secure until 2016. After seven years, I feel I've achieved all I can in the role, although there is still a lot to be done. I'd like to continue contributing to the national education policy landscape and have more time for my family and hobbies. I'll probably be busier than ever.

Booktrust aims to increase life chances and improve social mobility by creating a society motivated to read

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