The Dyslexia Awards are back for the eighth year – and it’s time to think about who you want to nominate. The awards, which celebrate dyslexics and those who go the extra mile to support them, are presented at a celebration event in the West Midlands in the autumn.
Nominations for the nine categories are now open, and awards founder Elizabeth Wilkinson urged everyone who knows, is related to or who works with dyslexics to get involved. She said: “I know from experience how amazing dyslexics are, and yet every year I am blown away by the content of the nominations received.
“I’m sure this year will be no different, and I look forward to lots of brilliant entries. We have a new category this year – the young entrepreneur award. Quite often young dyslexics show entrepreneurial skills at a young age, but it is not recognised or encouraged, so we wanted to offer the opportunity to help celebrate and shine a light on these young people, after all it's no coincidence that so many brilliant entrepreneurs are dyslexic.
“I hope our new award will inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs to go on to even bigger and better things just like some of our previous award winners such as Shropshire-based Clive Knowles from the British Ironworks Centre, Simon Washbrook, founder of Birmingham-based Popcorn CRM and Rossie Stone from Glasgow who founded the educational resource Dekko Comics.”
The adult categories include amazing artist, entrepreneur, learning support, community shining star, excellent educator, supportive employer and innovation. Two of the awards will also recognise dyslexic youngsters – the teenage community shining star award and the young entrepreneur award for 16 to 21-year-olds.
The awards recognise that people with dyslexia can achieve amazing things with support and understanding from people around them. Elizabeth said: “It saddens me that when people hear the term dyslexia, they assume it means we cannot read, write or spell.
“What we need right from an early age is to be taught the way we learn. That would then level the playing field and we would likely excel and be able to follow our positive pathways a lot earlier in life. Being surrounded by people who get that we think differently and having the right support in place from family, friends and educators, can make a big difference.
“If you know someone who has gone above and beyond to help a student or employee and empower them to reach their potential then, we want to hear about them.” It is estimated that about one person in 10 is dyslexic. It is a specific learning difficulty (SpLD) which usually manifests mainly as a difficulty with handling language, such as phonics, short term memory and automaticity.
It is caused by a difference in how the brain processes information but is unrelated to intelligence or other skills. Elizabeth, from Wellington in Telford, Shropshire, was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Jubilee honours for services to dyslexia.
She was diagnosed with dyslexia in her early 30s. Realising that an earlier diagnosis and more support for educators in school would have made a huge difference, Elizabeth set about doing what she could to raise positive awareness of dyslexia locally and to empower her fellow dyslexics.
After training to become a specialist teacher she went on to set up her company The Dyslexic Dyslexia Consultant and has since trained thousands of business leaders and professionals on dyslexia in the workplace. She also founded the not-for-profit Dyslexia Information Day – an annual event designed to help people access trustworthy, free advice about dyslexia and local services.
In 2015 she launched the first ever Dyslexia Awards for dyslexics, businesses and educators, in the Shropshire region only. The awards, which are also run on a not-for-profit basis, expanded to include the West Midlands region in 2020, before going national last year.
Other high profile dyslexic people include furniture restorer Jay Blades, chefs James Martin, Jamie Oliver, EastEnders actress Kara Tointon, The Saturdays pop star and presenter Mollie King and Scottish rugby union international Kenny Logan. Nominations for the 2023 Dyslexia Awards will close on June 30.