Author and Football Journalist Visits Belfast Harbour

Dan Freedman inspires parents and pupils with tales of his former career

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Caoimhin McCann, Cian Hewitt and Liam Healey from De La Salle Boys with Author Dan Freedman, Belfast Harbour's Jenni Barkley and Booktrust's Liz Canning.

As part of a partnership between BookTrust and Belfast Harbour, children’s author and football journalist, Dan Freedman has hosted an event at the Harbour Office to teach students about the importance of literacy and reading.

More than 200 pupils from Christian Brothers’ School, Belfast Boys’ Model, Priory Integrated College and De La Salle College in Belfast all came along to hear about Mr Freedman’s life as an author, and how his former career as an official reporter for the FA was inspiration for his popular, football-related Jamie Johnson series of books. These are now being made into a series for CBBC.

Parents, grandparents and Harbour staff also attended to hear Mr Freedman’s stories from his time as an FA reporter while accompanying the England team on two World Cup campaigns. He also showed clips of interviews with David Beckham, John Terry and playing a game of pool with Rio Ferdinand.

Miss Foster, an English teacher from Belfast Boys’ Model said:

“This was a really inspirational event in a fabulous setting which the boys and accompanying teachers thoroughly enjoyed.” 

Mackendry McIlwaine, a Year 8 pupil from Belfast Boys’ Model added:

“I love reading and was excited when I heard that I was going to meet Dan Freedman.  I used to hate football until I read ‘Kick Off’ and then I wanted to start playing myself.”

The event was organised by the children’s reading charity BookTrust which gave the pupils a copy of one of Mr Freedman’s books before his visit, enabling them to review, comment and chat to him about his books on a safe online Fronter Room site set up by the Education Authority Library Service. 

Talking about his involvement in the BookTrust and Belfast Harbour project, which aims to inspire schoolchildren to read, Mr Freedman said:

“It’s a privilege to be involved. Books and words changed my life. Every experience and achievement that I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of has been given to me by words and books. This project is our way of giving that same opportunity to these pupils. If we do our job right, we hope its effect will be felt for years to come.”

Jenni Barkley, Belfast Harbour’s Communications and Corporate Responsibility Manager said:

“Reading and literacy are the basic educational building blocks for young people.  It’s really important to encourage a love of reading at an early age and by supporting the work of BookTrust, Belfast Harbour wants to help inspire a new generation of readers.”

The students also entered a competition where they had to write an acrostic poem. The winners were:

  • Caoimhin Burns and Aiden Quinn from Christian Brothers School
  • Ben Miskelly and Tung Pham from Priory Integrated College
  • Caoimhin McCann, Cian Hewitt and Liam Healey from De La Salle Boys

Each winner was presented with a signed football from Mr Freedman.

The event was funded by The Arts and Business Investment Programme to support the new partnership between Belfast Harbour and BookTrust.