Happy Birthday, Helen!

Seventeenth August 1920 was the day our founder Helen Arkell was born. So, it seems a fitting time to remember her, and all the amazing things she achieved during her life.

Born in Holland, Helen’s father Emil Huitfeldt was in the Norwegian diplomatic service and her English mother, Dorothy Latham, was born and bred in Frensham, Surrey. Helen’s childhood involved frequent moves, which led to her speaking five different languages.

Helen lived a full and inspirational life, as a pioneer in the world of dyslexia, pushing back boundaries of knowledge. Passionate about championing the special abilities of people with dyslexia, Helen earned a worldwide reputation and was awarded an MBE in 1999 for her services to people with dyslexia. In 2003 Helen was honoured as a ‘Pioneer to the Life of the Nation’ at a Buckingham Palace reception, where other guests included Nelson Mandela.

Dyslexic herself, Helen said this about her own childhood education experiences:

‘All the time I was terribly aware of my own inadequacy. When you’re with a group of people who can do things without too much difficulty and you just can’t, the inevitable conclusion is that you’re ‘thick’. And when you think you’re stupid it not only affects your school life, your confidence gets a big knock. Since I’ve come to understand dyslexia I’ve felt much the most important thing is not the reading or spelling but the knock to the confidence.’

On the other side of the coin, Helen also exhibited many of the amazing strengths that frequently accompany the dyslexic way of approaching life, including heightened creativity, the ability to think ‘outside of the box’, and a strong sense of grit and determination. She had a real entrepreneurial spirit, so typical of many people with dyslexia.

Helen became an inspirational figure for many who felt the benefit of her support, advice and expertise. Children who were chronically dyslexic but successful in adulthood give her the credit for changing their lives.

Helen spent many years battling to ensure that dyslexia was taken seriously, by the education authorities in particular and by the public in general. She rubbed shoulders with the leading influencers in the field of education at that time, as well as forging links with organisations such as Great Ormond Street. Helen also worked closely with offenders at a detention centre in Woking, where she quickly understood that people with low literacy skills are particularly at risk of ending up in prison. She really was ahead of her time. Her influence was all the stronger because of her infectious laugh, twinkling eyes and wicked sense of humour.

In 1971 Helen joined forces with Joy Pollock and Elisabeth Waller to set up the Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre, initially in Parsons Green, London, then subsequently in 1987 in Frensham.

The charity’s mission is the same today as it was in 1971 under Helen’s leadership: to remove barriers to learning, employment and life for people with dyslexia by providing expert, personal and life-changing support.

So, as we say Happy Birthday Helen, with fond memories, we also renew our determination to drive her charity forward in the same way that we know she would have wanted. We hope she is proud of the fact that so far this year we’ve managed to:

  • provide bursary-funded support to 460 people from lower-income backgrounds (at an average cost of £524 each).
  • provide 1:1 assessments to 1,200 people who have (or think they may have) dyslexia.
  • provide over 3,000 hours of 1:1 specialist teaching/coaching to children and adults with dyslexia (which was an area of particular interest for Helen).
  • train over 100 teachers, teaching assistants and other interested parties in how to better support children with dyslexia in the classroom.
  • give helpful hints and tips to more parents of dyslexic children, and employers of dyslexic staff than I can possibly mention.

Thank you for all your support in helping to make this possible, keeping Helen’s legacy alive today, through this charity that bears her name.

If you would like to make a donation, however small, this would be a good place to do it!

Happy Birthday, Helen!!

Andy

By |2024-04-24T09:32:53+01:00August 17th, 2023|CEO blog, Latest news|0 Comments

Community Grant from Farnham Town Council

Huge thanks to our friends at Farnham Town Council for an amazing Community Grant of £1,000.  This generous grant will help our work supporting children and adults with dyslexia in Farnham and the surrounding villages who might not otherwise be able to afford help.

Here’s our CEO Andy being presented with a suitably giant cheque by Alan Earwaker, Farnham’s Mayor and a great friend to the charity.

Annual Golf Day, 11 May 2023

We were thrilled to be back at Worplesdon Golf Club on Thursday 11 May for the charity’s Annual Golf Day.

Organised with the help of supporter, Sue Stradling, and her son Ewan, the competition has been held in aid of the charity for over 30 years.

The weather was much better than predicted as the players headed out onto the stunning Worplesdon Golf Course to play 18 holes of four ball better ball.

Worplesdon is one of the classic heathland Surrey courses which remains much as it was set out by J F Abercrombie in 1908.

The competition was followed by a delicious buffet lunch after which prizes were awarded and Andy Cook, CEO of Helen Arkell Dyslexia Charity, gave a short speech.

We were thrilled to be joined by David and Peter Arkell, sons of the charity’s founder as well as other members of the Arkell family.

Many congratulations go to David Chiltern and Terry Perkins who won the competition, taking home the silver salver.

Winners of the silver salver

Winners of the silver salver

Huge thanks to all the players for taking part and for their many generous donations. The day raised a fantastic £9,330 which will enable us to support many more children, young people and adults with dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties.

Thank you so much for helping us to achieve this.

Annual Golf Day 2024: Thursday 9 May

If you’d like to take part in next year’s charity golf day email events@helenarkell.org.uk for details.

We look forward to hearing from you.

By |2024-04-24T09:33:11+01:00May 31st, 2023|Fundraising news, Latest news|0 Comments

Three reasons to have a dyslexia assessment as an adult

Many people don’t find out that they have dyslexia until they are adults. Perhaps your schooling is over – quite recently or a long time ago – and you feel it’s too late to worry about whether you are dyslexic.

Here are three reasons why a dyslexia assessment as an adult – at any age at all – can be a good move.

1 You will understand yourself better

Many people with dyslexia are very bright but found school a struggle. This may have had a huge impact on confidence and made them feel they are stupid and affected the choices they made and continue to make.

Having a dyslexia assessment may explain why you found it so difficult to achieve academically. You will discover what your weaknesses are and why you have them, but also where your strengths lie – and how you can use these to overcome those weaknesses. This can be a huge boost to confidence and a relief to understand what has been going on over the years. It can help you forgive yourself if you didn’t achieve what you might have and help you imagine what you could do with the right support.

2 It can have a positive effect on your career

Once you have your dyslexia report, you can approach your employer and ask for reasonable adjustments to your work environment or work processes to help you do your job more easily and effectively. This may be having presentation slides given to you in advance of a meeting, being given verbal rather than written instructions, having notes printed on pale-coloured paper or it might be that some tasks are given to someone else while you take on those that are better suited to your skills. Under the Equality Act 2010, dyslexia is classed as a disability and you have a right to reasonable adjustments being made by your employer.

Employers are now beginning to see that there is huge value in employing workers with dyslexia. People with dyslexia can be incredibly creative in all sorts of ways, including problem solving. They often approach problems and tasks in a different way to those who do not have dyslexia and can be innovative in their solutions. This kind of ‘out of the box’ thinking is hugely valuable to employers.

An assessment can also open the door to support for further training or academic opportunities. What could you achieve?

3 It can help your child with their dyslexia

Dyslexia is often inherited. If you have a child who has been diagnosed with dyslexia, it can be hugely helpful to have any concerns about whether you have dyslexia addressed. You can both be ‘in it together’. It can help you both to help each other, give you both confidence and help you both to find ways to overcome struggles. It can help you discuss your child’s dyslexia at school if you have a better idea why and how they are struggling. You speaking openly, positively and without embarrassment about your dyslexia can help your child do the same, changing how they feel about being dyslexic and ultimately celebrating their strengths.

How can you get an adult dyslexia assessment?

If now is the moment to have a dyslexia assessment, Helen Arkell Dyslexia Charity offers a range of services for adults, including adult dyslexia assessments.

‘Having spent all my life not knowing why I was experiencing difficulties, and believing I was not intelligent at all, finally having official recognition of my condition is extremely helpful: a lot of things now ‘make sense’… It might sound dramatic, and would definitely have been something I would have been very skeptical about if you had asked me before my diagnosis, but my diagnosis has allowed me to feel validated for being myself.’

Assessed adult, aged 61

‘It helped me understand where my difficulty with memory retention came from and feel more confident because of it.’

Assessed adult

‘… my diagnosis has helped me get the support I need from my university to accomplish my full potential in my studies. I have recommended Helen Arkell to anyone I know struggling with symptoms of dyslexia who may wish to have an assessment.’

Assessed adult

By |2024-04-24T09:34:00+01:00January 27th, 2023|Latest news, Team blog|0 Comments

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