Herne Bay’s Reading Doctor launches new HQ


Teacher Deborah Salsbury found a new home in Herne Bay seven years ago with the help of TV’s Location, Location, Location programme. Whitstable author Julie Wassmer talks to Deborah about her passion to ensure reading skills for all via The Reading Doctor.


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Deborah with Phil Spencer from Location, Location, Location

I remember watching the episode of Location, Location, Location when Phil Spencer helped you to find your beautiful home in Herne Bay. How did that come about?

Fate! In 2016, my eldest daughter was considering Kent University and while we visited the campus, I happened to spot a bus with Whitstable on the front. On impulse, I said: “Let’s move here!” And we did, renting in Whitstable for a few months, until Phil found our ideal home in Herne Bay.


And where are your roots?

My parents are from very working class areas of Nottingham. My mum is one of 10 children and left school early, and virtually illiterate, but she went on to prioritise education for all members of our family.


Can you explain about The Reading Doctor and what it entails?

Starting as a primary school teacher in 1993, I then became a specialist group intervention teacher, focusing on pupils who needed a more personalised approach. After training as a Reading Recovery Teacher, I founded The Reading Doctor in 2012 – a tuition and school intervention service for struggling readers. Seven years later, I franchised the business and to date we now have a network of 32 Reading Doctors working across the country with 5-star reviews.


I witnessed your commitment towards your vocation during the launch of the Reading Garden Room you created for children at St. Anthony’s Special Educational Needs school, Cliftonville, in 2018.

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Launch Day of St Anthony’s Reading Garden Room

It was great that you came along. The Reading Garden Room was funded partly with donation by The Red Eagle Foundation and greatly benefits children with social, emotional and mental health challenges.


And the private tuition?

That complements our school intervention with profits reinvested to create resources tailored to the needs of all pupils – in particular those who are neurodivergent.


Is it fair to say you have a very personal interest in wanting to see your students achieve great results?

Absolutely. My own experience of being dyslexic, and having a daughter with dyslexia, reinforced my belief that all children can succeed when offered the right teaching methods and a positive self-image as learners. I’m dedicated to improving literacy skills but also to nurturing a real love of story, reading for meaning, for purpose, and for pleasure. Many of my happy childhood memories involve stories and books and that’s something I want all children to share.


And now you have a new HQ in Herne Bay?

Yes! I acted on impulse yet again when I noticed a neglected little shop on North Street had become available. It had been empty for over a year but I set to work renovating it with the help of a handyman, friends and neighbours. We were wallpapering and painting into the night but 10 days later it was finished. This new HQ is now the beating heart of The Reading Doctor.


It looks wonderful. So many white volumes on your bookshelves!

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The HQ’s mural

It’s actually a book mural but it’s fooled many passers-by! I hope to collect signatures from authors to spread the word about The Reading Doctor. I’m also looking into creating a book bank for children which will pop up in school holidays.


So, if any local businesses want to help by sponsoring a book bank, they can contact you?

Certainly. They’d be very welcome to do so.


And what about those authors’ signatures?

Can I tempt you to come along and sign a volume?


I’ll be right there!


Written by Julie Wassmer

Julie Wassmer is the author of the Whitstable Pearl Mystery books – now a TV series starring Kerry Godliman. www.juliewassmer.com


To find out more about The Reading Doctor and how to get involved, check out their website and Facebook page @thereadingdoctors, or contact Deborah via LinkedIn or email [email protected].


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