Dyslexia Action has some amazing high profile supporters who have helped us over the years to spread the word about dyslexia. You can read more about them below.
Lord Davies of Abersoch, CBE
Lord Davies is a Partner and Vice Chairman of Corsair Capital. He has many interests, including being Chairman of the Royal Academy of Arts Trustees, and Chairman of the Garden Bridge Trust.
He was Minister for Trade, Investment, Small Business and Infrastructure from 2009 until 2010. Prior to that, he was Chairman and previously CEO, and served on the Board of Standard Chartered for over 12 years.
He was awarded a CBE for his services to the financial sector and the community in Hong Kong in June 2002 where he served as a member of the HK Exchange fund. Speaking about dyslexia Lord Davies said: "It's amazing what dyslexics can achieve".
As a speech therapist, teacher and author, Maria has always been passionate about language, literacy and literature. Maria's interest in dyslexia began at university where she was tutored by Professor Maggie Snowling. She went on to work at the Hornsby International Learning Centre where she wrote the first Distance Learning Course. Maria believes that books should be accessible to everyone, but particularly the young. 'Reading allows us to inhabit different worlds and to experience life from someone else's point of view. It helps us to make sense of ourselves and the world around us.' Maria has written a number of illustrated children’s books and her first YA novel, Broken Strings, has just been published.
Mollie King is one fifth of the British girl group The Saturdays. She had always struggled with reading at school and at the age of 11 was diagnosed with dyslexia. However, with the right support and hard work, Mollie achieved top A-Levels. Mollie has been helping Dyslexia Action to raise awareness of dyslexia and inspire young people. Mollie said: "When I was at school, most people were planning on going to university and becoming doctors or lawyers. I wanted to be a singer and I was laughed at. It was tough but I never let anything stop me. I would like to think that in some way I could encourage young people to achieve their goals."
Simon Lydiard is a Senior Civil Servant at the Department for Transport, specialising in commercial leadership and procurement. After struggling for years, he left school with just one O-level at the age of 16 and got an entry-level job at the Civil Service. After several years without career progression, Simon underwent a workplace assessment and was shocked to be diagnosed with dyslexia in addition to his dyspraxia. He explains: “I realised that the diagnosis was helpful, enabling me to get the additional adjustments I needed at work.” After receiving diagnoses for both dyspraxia and dyslexia, Simon’s career went from strength to strength ultimately resulting in his appointment as a senior civil servant. He now has a First Class Honours degree, a Master’s degree, and two fellowships. “Everyone’s dyslexia is personal – so adopt the strategies that are right for you. Don’t let your dyslexia limit you.”
Gavin Malcolm has dyslexia and started receiving tuition from Dyslexia Action when he was 14. After struggling for many years at school, getting specialist tuition was a great relief. In his adult life he decided to work towards becoming a London Cabbie and came back to Dyslexia Action again, as a student, to receive tuition to help him address how he was going to learn all the detailed, specific information that he needed to learn to pass ‘The Knowledge’ exam. He has since become a proud London Cabbie and has also become a tutor himself at Knowledge4U, a school that helps people prep for The Knowledge exam, to pass on his particular learning methods. Gavin has become an inspiration to many people with dyslexia, speaking out about the need for support and the difficulties of not getting that support.
Aakash Odedra is an award winning, contemporary British dancer. He was born in Birmingham and trained in the classical Indian dance styles of Kathak and Bharat Natyam, later developing his dance style in a more distinctive, contemporary direction. He has worked with renowned choreographers and received global recognition winning awards for his innovative dance and has been awarded various bursaries for development and choreography. Aakash formed his own company Aakash Odedra Company in 2011 which tells stories through movement and choreographs commissioned pieces for prestigious occasions like The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebration. Aakash was diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age and found conventional education at school very challenging. As written language was so alien to him, dance became his preferred mode of expression. Aakash is currently on tour performing the shows Rising, Murmur and Inked. In Murmur, he, Australian choreographer Lewis Major and Ars Electronica Futurelab have explored the idea of warped and exaggerated realities bringing the misconceptions of dyslexia to life through the visual effects of light, sound and movement. (image by Sean Goldthorpe)
Lord Richard Rogers
Richard Rogers is the 2007 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate, the recipient of the RIBA Gold Medal in 1985 and he became a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour in 2008. He was knighted in 1991 and subsequently made a life peer in 1996. In 1998, Richard was appointed to chair the UK Government’s Urban Task Force on the state of our cities. He was Chief Advisor on Architecture and Urbanism to the Mayor of London and advised on the Mayor of Barcelona’s Urban Strategies Council. Richard Rogers’ practice, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, is best known for such pioneering buildings as the Centre Pompidou, Paris, Terminal 4, Barajas Airport Madrid, Terminal 5, Heathrow and Lloyd’s of London and the Leadenhall Building in the City of London. Lord Rogers has said: “When I was young dyslexia was not recognised so I, like many others, was labelled as stupid. I believe the sky’s the limit if we are given love and care, as well as the right support and understanding.”
Jonathan is an entrepreneur and teacher. At school Jonathan struggled with reading and writing and found himself constantly placed in the bottom set. He felt like his life was stuck on a continual loop, until a diagnosis of dyslexia, at college, “transformed his life”. He then went on to university to study sports development and eventually became a PE Teacher.
Jonathan credits his dyslexia with helping him to build up resilience, but also with helping him to see things in a different light and to find solutions where others may struggle. This has led to Jonathan exploring his entrepreneurial side and he is now building a VC funded tech start-up business, something he could never have imagined doing before his diagnosis.
Jonathan hopes that his story can be of inspiration to others. His advice to anyone young is, “even if you are struggling at school you can still be successful in life, so find what you are naturally good at.”
Ali Sparkes is the author of several popular children’s books, including The Shapeshifter and Frozen in Time. Ali feels that fabulous stories and the ability to read provide an escape hatch into another world. Ali’s son Alex was diagnosed with dyslexia at an early age. Sadly, support was not available at Alex’s junior and senior schools and without the right help he began to struggle. Alex’s needs have since been reassessed and he now receives the extra time he needs to achieve his potential. Ali’s next book Destination Earth features a young girl who lives with dyslexia. She meets an alien who helps her to overcome her struggles and learn to focus so that she and her friends can save the world.
Peter Thompson is Founder and Chairman of The Vision Charity, which raises funds to directly benefit blind, partially sighted and dyslexic children. Peter has given a huge amount of time, energy and commitment to supporting Dyslexia Action over the past 30+ years. He joined the Dyslexia Action board in 1996, becoming Chairman from 2002 to 2006. Dyslexia Action presented him with the Lady Radnor award at the 2009 Dyslexia Action Awards Dinner, which celebrates exceptional contribution to improving the lives of those with dyslexia and specific learning disabilities.
Zoë Wanamaker is one of the finest American-born English actresses. She has appeared in films, including “Harry Potter” and “My Week with Marilyn”, as well as a number of television productions, including a long-time role as Susan Harper in the hit BBC comedy series “My Family”. Zoë suspected for many years that she may be dyslexic. Her academic years were painful and frustrating, until she eventually found solace in the artistic world. Speaking of her dyslexia, Zoë has stated that “It makes learning lines a challenge” so it was a huge relief to her when her dyslexia was confirmed by Dyslexia Action in September 2006. Zoë has been a supporter of Dyslexia Action ever since, and received an award from the charity in 2007 for her achievements.
Rachel Yankey OBE
Rachel Yankey is England’s most capped footballer ever. She overtook Peter Shilton’s all-time record of 125 caps when she represented England against Japan in June 2013. She has represented England at the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the UEFA Women’s European Championships and Team GB at the London Olympic Games. Growing up as a youngster in Brent, North West London, Rachel had literacy problems at school. She was later diagnosed with dyslexia. She now runs the Rachel Yankey Football Programme where she delivers coaching sessions to schoolchildren in London and beyond. Rachel says: “I am delighted to be an ambassador for Dyslexia Action because it’s a charity that I can relate to. It can be very difficult for young people with dyslexia and I am very keen to work with Dyslexia Action to help young people fulfil their potential.”