Bill’s storytelling gift brought dyslexia awareness to Downing Street, the UN and beyond, an extract from ‘Dyslexia and Us’.
I had heard about dyslexia but did not know anything about it or how it affected the person, therefore I did not realise that this was the reason my husband had difficulty with reading and writing. It was something that he had learned to live with over the years and I just accepted that. I was the one who dealt with the paperwork and he would concentrate on the more practical things. He had many hobbies and was
a very keen gardener. He was unable to put his ideas down on paper or explain them very well but he was great at visualising what it would look like.
It took a lot of courage for him to phone Adult Basic Education but it turned out to be one of the best decisions he had ever made in his life.
It was not until 1994 that he was finally diagnosed as being dyslexic which meant that he had difficulty in learning and retaining information. This was the turning point in his life. He was a changed man and became much more confident. When he realised that he had the gift for writing poetry and short stories I was the one who had to type them up and check the spelling. During the time he was writing he started to attend college and eventually became more confident with a computer and was then able to type his own work.
There was just no stopping him now. In 1997 he was runner up in the Fife Council awards, and a few weeks later he was on Scottish Television, Scottish Education Adult Learner of the Year. Then in 1998 he was runner up in the United Kingdom Awards out of 210 entrants.
An invitation came from 10 Downing Street to meet the Prime Minster, Tony Blair, to celebrate the United Nations Year of the Older Person. Also 1999 saw him become an exhibitor in the 20th century museum within the Scottish National Museum Scotland. In the year 2000 he was Regional winner in the Nationwide Award for Voluntary Endeavour. Then became a finalist in this same award and was invited to the House of Commons where he received £250 in vouchers for himself, and £500 for Dyslexia Scotland. Yes there is more. He was an Unsung Hero in the Sunday Mail Great Scot Awards and received £250 for Dyslexia Scotland. He also attended a Royal Garden Party at Holyrood Palace in 2003.
Bill was a great ambassador for Dyslexia Scotland and regularly visited various groups and organisations to give talks about his life with dyslexia and how his life had changed at the age of 50. Sadly Bill died suddenly at the age of 66 but I know he encouraged a lot of the people he met to seek help and was an inspiration to many.
This article is an extract from the book ‘Dyslexia and Us’, a collection of personal stories about experiences of dyslexia. Buy the book from Dyslexia Scotland’s online shop.