A PIONEER of a widely adopted way of teaching reading to children has been rewarded for his extraordinary achievements and service to the UK by a New Year Honour. Christopher Jolly, a pupil at Mount Kelly College in the 1950s, has been awarded an OBE for his services to education as managing director and owner of Jolly Learning Ltd, an independent publisher. His company publishes materials to teach phonics - now a mainstream teaching programme in primary schools in the UK, and to improve child literacy in over 100 countries. Chris was among the first to promote it over the past 30 years. Jolly Phonics is the world leading synthetic phonics publisher (selling two million each year). Founded in 1987, it teaches letter and music sounds in a fun and multi-sensory way. His work also earned him an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from a Nigerian unversity, an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Bristol University and a Lifetime Achievement Award from publishing trade association, IPG. He lived in Dousland aged 5-16, and attended Mount House School (as it was then) from 1952-57. He recalls being good at maths, enjoying being in the Scouts and hating swimming in the freezing River Tavy while at the school. He said: “It’s been an immense honour to be awarded this OBE. However, my initial steps in publishing would not have suggested it. Phonics was deeply unfashionable when I developed the first book, with my authors, 30 years ago, on my dining room table. However, we made it engaging and effective, which lead to increasing sales and usage. Incredibly, ten years later most schools in the UK adopted Jolly Phonics and government policy did a U-turn. Now, England has the highest international reading studies ranking. Several counties have it as national policy and I have supplied it philanthropically to 24 countries in Africa.”