In memoriam of Tom Shannon

Megan Jackson
December 19, 2022

We are sad to hear about the passing of Tom Shannon. It is because of him that Shannon Trust exists today.


In the summer of 1992, Tom received his first letter from Christopher Morgan, who had joined Prison Reform Trust’s penfriend scheme. From there a strong and honest friendship grew.


Tom wrote all about his life at prison, including how many people he had met that didn’t know how to read. Their letters were later published in a book, Invisible Crying Tree, named after a poem written by Tom.


It was from the royalties of ‘Invisible Crying Tree’ that Christopher was able to set up Shannon Trust, in honour of his friend.


Having heard from Tom about the large numbers of people who need help with reading letters in prison, Christopher came up with the idea to develop a reading programme that would allow prisoners who can read to teach those who can’t.


It was only after Tom was released that he knew how much impact he had made, with Shannon Trust having helped tens of thousands of people in prison learn to read.


What was born out of two people writing letters, and started in one prison, has become a programme that supports people across all prisons in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.


Tom Shannon’s legacy will live on in the people that now have the opportunity to learn to read because of him.

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