The High Sheriff of Staffordshire has revealed to pupils at Maple Hayes, a specialist dyslexia school in Lichfield, that he too suffers from the condition.
Colonel David Leigh visited pupils at the city school for the day to speak to them at their weekly assembly about his experiences growing up with dyslexia, along with handing out achievement awards, and to be given a guided tour of the facilities.
Col. Leigh, who was joined by his wife Lucy Leigh, told pupils at the school that they should never give up on their dreams, and that they could achieve anything, despite having had a difficult start in life.
He said: “I think it is important for children with dyslexia to see that they can absolutely make it, no matter what their difficulty. I was told I was ‘thick’ while I was at school, and it was only when I was 25-years-old that I was told I was dyslexic. People didn’t really understand it in those days. But I had some fabulous teachers too who were really there for me, and that helped me so much.
“It was from school that I went to Sandhurst before serving in the Territorial Army for 28 years. I am now chairman of Staffordshire Clubs for Young People, so I’m passionate about supporting ventures which look after the young people in the county,” he added.
Col. Leigh was shown by Dr Daryl Brown, headteacher at the school which is celebrating it’s 35th birthday this year, how important cursive, or joined up handwriting using a fountain pen, helps pupils to feel the words as they write them, which then helps them with writing.
Col. Leigh said: “Seeing the teaching methods they use in the school has been fascinating, and the fact they do not use phonics to teach is incredible. I am so pleased that a school like this exists.”
Dr Brown said: “We want to thank the High Sheriff for taking time out of his busy schedule and coming to talk to our pupils. We feel it’s important for them all to meet successful and interesting people from all walks of life so they are aware that they too can succeed.”
There are around 120 pupils aged between seven and 17-years-old who attend the Lichfield school who live in Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Birmingham, Worcestershire and surrounding counties.