Light bulb moment: Rachel Kelly

A life-changing moment for the chief executive of Reading Matters, which improves the reading skills and life chances of children and young people

Rachel Kelly
Rachel Kelly

I completed my Duke of Edinburgh's Gold Award as a 17 year old while I was attending my local comprehensive - it took me quite a while, if my memory serves me well. My volunteering element was listening to and supporting younger pupils to progress and develop their reading. I was in my element and I felt like I made a real difference: well, they kept turning up for a start. From then on, I knew that I wanted to support others, to fight for the underdog and to help those who might be less fortunate than me.

I trotted off to university and started my career as a graduate management trainee in the private sector, staying there until after I had become a mum twice over. It was then that it hit me - the company I worked for was good and treating me well, but was it what I actually wanted to do? My light bulb moment: I was in the wrong sector. I needed to change. I needed to work for a cause I believed in, deep down in my heart of hearts.

I took an interim role at Reading Matters. This started to tick some boxes and a few years later I became chief executive. I now also sit on the boards of the charity chief executives body Acevo and Canterbury Imagine, a book-gifting charity for Bradford children. I've realised what my inner teenager knew all along - that to be successful we need to believe in what we are doing and have a passion for our cause.

I could be 17 all over again.

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