‘The Repair Shop’ star Jay Blades says learning to read aged 51 is ‘like having a book of ants’

·3-min read
Programme Name: The Repair Shop S6 (Peak) - TX: n/a - Episode: The Repair Shop S6 (Peak) - Generics (No. Generics) - Picture Shows:  Jay Blades - (C) Ricochet Ltd - Photographer: Production
The Repair Shop host Jay Blades (Ricochet Ltd)

TV presenter Jay Blades had described learning to read words like 'having a book of ants' moving about on the page, after only learning the skill in his fifties.

The Repair Shop host says his limited literacy has not impacted much on his life up until this but explained that learning to read has 'opened up loads of opportunities'.

Now the furniture restorer, who previously called reading his “toughest challenge” has documented his learning journey in a one-off BBC One film, Jay Blades: Learning To Read At 51.

Blades compared looking at words on a page to 'a book of ants' as he explained: “So the letters are all ants, and they just keep on moving around. So you try and hold them down.

“It’s insane, I’m telling you. And it gives you a headache because imagine trying to see something that’s constantly moving”.

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Jay Blades is the host of BBC's The Repair Shop (BBC)
Jay Blades is the host of BBC's The Repair Shop (BBC)

Blades added that having 'too much confidence and a lot of naivety' meant he had not previously felt embarrassed about not being able to read properly.

“Just telling people, ‘Yeah, I can’t read, read this for me’. And they’re just like, ‘What?’” he said. “People find it amazing that somebody can’t read. It’s like not everybody is a David Beckham, not everybody can kick the ball and get it in the back of the net. It just doesn’t work like that.”

He continued: “Some of us can’t do these things. It hasn’t impacted (my life) that much”.

Blades, who announced his engagement in December, added that having learned to read he now felt as though “anything is possible”.

The TV host stated that he felt it was important for him to use his platform to “inspire and make people better”.

"(Reading means) more opportunities for me. Anything is possible,” he said. “Look at six years ago, I was on rock bottom, and then to be where I am six years later…having a TV documentary, being on a very successful show."

EDITORIAL USE ONLY Jay Blades as he prepares to present a personally designed bench to Michelle Thomson and Sarah-Jane Piper, created for them by The National Lottery to celebrate their work with The Blind and Sight Impaired Society during the COVID-19 pandemic, at Gloucester Park, Essex.
Jay Blades (PA)

He continued: "It’s insane. It’s possible. It really is possible. No matter where you are in your life, no matter what you think you can’t achieve, there are some people that are out there ready to support you.

"It can take you places that you could never imagine".

Jay Blades: Learning To Read At 51 airs at 9pm on 26 January, on BBC One.

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