LEADING Royal Air Force officers have backed our reading campaign and said literacy is fundamental for children’s futures.

Wing Commanders Paul Cole and Angela Baker and Squadron Leader Ben Edwards from RAF Brize Norton have said they could not do their jobs without a high level of literacy.

The Oxford Mail has teamed up with Oxfordshire County Council and the National Literacy Trust to launch the reading campaign.

County Hall set aside £500,000 to improve literacy after the city was named the worst in the country in all subjects at Key Stage 1 in 2010.

But the proportion of Oxford children achieving expected levels in reading and writing at seven improved in September.

Wg Cmdr Cole, officer commanding operations wing, said: “Reading and processing information is a huge part of my job here.

“If you want to connect to society today through the internet and the electronic world you have got to be able to read.

“The more educated and capable the population we have, the better the individual future and the better our collective futures.

“You are not going to get on in life without the ability to read. I absolutely 100 per cent support the reading campaign.”

Wg Cmdr Baker, officer commanding airport of embarkation wing, said: “The reading campaign is going to give children the right start in life.

“The earlier you introduce books to children the easier they will find it at school, and hopefully that will set them on the right path.

“You cannot get by in the UK without being able to read these days.”

Wg Cmdr Baker said she made time every day to read to her two young children and estimated she had 150 children’s books at home.

She said: “It is about encouraging their imagination and encouraging early learning.

“I want them to have a good education and hopefully go to university and carry on from there.”

RAF Brize Norton, which is now the UK’s largest airbase, offers training and education for its service personnel at the base library.

Sqn Ldr Edwards, officer commanding force development squadron, said: “The reading campaign is an excellent initiative.

“Going down to the grass roots and getting the children enthusiastic about reading is fundamental and will set them off on the right steps for their future careers.”