Penguin Random House partners with people and places

Penguin Random House partners with people and places

 Transworld has announced that Zara Sekhavati, travel editor at Rough Guides, Berlitz Guides and Insight Guides (APA Publications) is the first recipient of The Sophie Christopher Volunteer Award. Earlier this year, Transworld announced that it was setting up the award, a sponsored volunteering scheme to honour the memory of the company’s former Senior Publicity Manager, who died of a pulmonary embolism at the age of 28 in June 2019.  In addition to her outstanding work as a publicist, Sophie made it her mission to improve the lives of others, from co-founding The FLIP, an interview series showcasing exceptional women working in the publishing industry, through to her work with Beyond the Streets, a UK charity working to end sexual exploitation. Sophie’s passions reflected her belief in the power of literacy and literature to change lives.  It was with those interests in mind, along with her love of travel, that Penguin Random House decided to partner with the award-winning responsible volunteering organisation people and places to sponsor a two-week programme – open to anyone working in publishing and bookselling  – in support of the work of the Treak Community Centre close to Siem Reap in Cambodia.  The Centre is committed to creating opportunity, not dependency, and provides free, non-formal education and training that supplements and complements the Cambodian state system, offering a nursery, school, library, computer classes and a wide range of skills training. The aim is to help the local people learn new skills and increase their confidence so that they are better equipped to take control of their futures.  Penguin Random House wants to build and develop a sustainable relationship with the community and plans to sponsor an annual placement to offer consistency and continuity.  The entries were assessed by a team from Penguin Random House, Sophie’s family and friends, leaders from the Treak Community Centre and author and broadcaster Simon Mayo who worked closely with Sophie.   Larry Finlay, Transworld MD said ‘We were all so impressed by the applications we received, every one of which was humbling, thoughtful and accomplished. I wish we could send everyone who applied. I warmly congratulate Zara on being the recipient of this inaugural award in honour of our greatly-missed friend and colleague, Sophie Christopher.’ The leaders from the Treak Community Centre said ‘Zara stood out from our first reading of her application form.  Her passion for women’s rights resonates with us here in Cambodia, as do her interests in education and children, her CELTA qualification, her technical knowledge of teaching English as a foreign language and her appreciation that learning is much more effective if it is enjoyable. ‘All of these indicate that Zara will be able to help, not only the children who attend Treak Community Centre, but that she will also be able to work with our Cambodian teachers to develop their skills and thus leave something tangible behind after she leaves.’ Zara Sekhavati says ‘I’m elated to have been selected for the first Sophie Christopher Volunteer Award. Thank you again to everyone involved and to Sophie’s family and friends. I’m delighted to be part of such an important cause in honour of such an incredible woman.’

Leave a Reply