THE top officer of a regiment dubbed The Real Hurt Locker has backed the Oxford Mail’s Reading Campaign and spoken of his battle against dyslexia.

Lieutenant Colonel Adam McRae, commanding officer of 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal (11 EOD), said reading was the key to everything.

“It has been a challenge,” he said. “I just thought I was not very bright and I struggled with reading at a young age.

“Having dyslexia is not the end of the world, but you have to understand that you have to work hard to overcome it.”

Lt Col McRae now has two degrees, a BA Hons in economics and a MA in military studies from Cranfield, the Ministry of Defence’s university.

He also received an MBE for his services to the army in 2005 and will deploy to Afghanistan in April to head the UK’s bomb disposal task force. His regiment is nicknamed after the 2008 film about a team of bomb disposal experts, The Hurt Locker.

He said he now reads “an awful lot” both for work and also for pleasure, and particularly enjoys relaxing with historical detective novels.

He said: “Sometimes I read for military education and sometimes I just read to escape. It is wonderful to just read a book and divorce yourself from reality.”

Lt Col McRae also makes time to read to his two children, aged nine and 11, and they are currently working their way through The Hobbit.

He said: “I do it because it is time with my children, especially as I am about to deploy for six months, and also creates a routine. It is now part of their life and they understand that reading is important.

“I think literacy is the key to everything. Without it you cannot progress. To get to where I have, especially on the bomb disposal courses, you have to be able to read.”

The Oxford Mail Reading Campaign is run in partnership with Oxfordshire County Council and the National Literacy Trust.