Inspiring dyslexics from across the UK along with the nation’s outstanding educators and employers who help them to achieve have been celebrated at a glittering awards ceremony.
The 2023 Dyslexia Awards and celebration evening was held at the Mercure Telford Central hotel in Shropshire on September 23 to showcase the achievements and talents of dyslexics nationwide.
The national event was attended by about 112 finalists and guests, who heard many inspiring stories about the achievements of amazing dyslexics.
The annual event, which was livestreamed by those who couldn’t attend is the brainchild of Elizabeth Wilkinson MBE, who has been working in the field of dyslexia for 24 years.
Elizabeth said: “It was another amazing night, and everybody had a great time. I am so proud of all our finalists. Every year I am blown away by them but this year I was so very humbled to see how proud people were to be nominated. I love that people are being proud and are using this as a platform to highlight dyslexic talents and to make a positive difference.
“These awards are about celebrating dyslexic achievement and shining a light on the people and organisations who recognise dyslexic talents and skills, and who are smart enough to utilise and support them, and who create environments where those talents can flourish.
“It’s all about raising positive awareness of dyslexia and showing that different thinking is a good thing – it brings with it an abundance of alternative solutions to problems, new inventions, creations, leaders and innovations.
“All this is made much easier if we are taught properly and supportive employers and educators get that we learn differently. It can make such a positive difference to people’s futures.
“Research suggests that one person in every 10 is probably dyslexic so it’s got to be in everyone’s interest that the talents and skills of dyslexics are nurtured, encouraged and put to good use.
There were nine awards presented, including two for Alistair Sims from Somerset, who picked up the innovation award and adult community shining star trophy.
Elizabeth said: “Each category is judged by a separate panel, so it is really impressive that Alistair stood out in both categories. He is actually only the second person ever to be shortlisted for three awards!
“Alistair runs the Books on the Hill bookshop in Clevedon, and the judges commented on his passion for creating a welcoming, supportive environment to help reduce anxieties around reading.
“A dyslexic person opening a bookshop is a real example of innovation, and Alistair is seen as a champion for dyslexic people and for helping to dispel the myth that dyslexic people don’t like reading.”
Other award winners included Northumbria Police, which received the supportive employer award for the second year running, and face paint artist Sara Reynolds from Birmingham, who won the amazing artist award.
For the first time this year there was a young entrepreneur award for dyslexic youngsters aged between 16 – 21, which was won by Arun Watkins from Surrey who set up online rugby kit supplier Egg Chaser Stash.
The adult entrepreneur award went to Jacqueline Stockwell of Essex, who is the founder and CEO of Leadership Through Data, an information management and governance training consultancy.
The teenage community shining star award was presented to Neave Chatting-Tonks, from Guernsey, while Eurydice Caldwell from London was named the excellent educator winner and was the recipient of a very special Founders Award.
The final award stayed in Shropshire, the county where the Dyslexia Awards were created, as Victoria Thornton from the Shrewsbury Colleges Group won the learning support award.
Elizabeth said: “The evening was a great success and really shone the spotlight on the achievements of all the amazing finalists and winners, showing the positive side of dyslexia.
“Many thanks to all of our fabulous sponsors, because I really couldn’t do it without them, to the businesses who very kindly gave amazing table gifts for our guests, and to everyone who took the time to nominate someone for an award. I am so excited for the 2024 awards now.”
The companies and organisations who each sponsored an award were: Medatative State, Exclusive Solutions Ltd, the Federation of Small Businesses, Global Freight Services Ltd, The Dyslexic Dyslexia Consultant, CRG Business Solutions, Darwin Wealth Management Ltd, Vaikai Web Design and In The Loop, Shrewsbury.