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My dyslexia has never defined me

by Nick Page.

My dyslexia has never defined me - in fact I’ve never been tested but I just know I am.

I suspect my dad, a successful builder and entrepreneur, is also dyslexic. He left school at 15 and within five years a number of the ‘clever ‘boys who finished their studies were working for him. While my dad’s beginnings were very humble, he managed to privately educate both his kids and bought a family home in a private road.

I was a boarder at a public school (only a few miles from where we lived), I failed my common entrance exam and my father made a donation to the “swimming pool fund” to get me in.

I really enjoyed the school along with the sports but, academically, I was always at the bottom of the class and was useless at exams. My academic achievements are limited to two O-levels - maths and physics - and a maths OA. I took two A levels, which I failed.

The school made me sit my English Language O-Level seven times - needless to say, I don’t have an English O-level.

I was the first boy in the school’s history to get into the sixth form without the required four O-levels.

On the first day of term, whilst queueing for breakfast at the cafeteria, myself and my friend Nick where pulled from the queue by the sports master.

Mr Benson was a feared teacher as he was also in charge of caning.

Anyway, he presented us to 16 girls that had just joined the school in sixth form too.

My friend and I were made “responsible” for them to ensure they settled in well, had everything they needed, escorted them to classes off site and acted sometimes as bodyguards, when some boys wanted to get up close and personal.

Mr. Benson made it clear that if there were any problems we would be summoned to his office. Not the best start to the school term but one that turned out great and many of the girls are still my friends today.

I was Head of House in my final year and a happy, popular and sporty boy. Only doing two A-levels gave me plenty of spare time so I refurbished the sixth form club as I had learnt a few tricks from helping dad and did carpentry at school.

During the 125th anniversary of the school there was a big fete organised. As my uncle had a pub locally, I organised all the tables, beers, pumps, glasses etc. for the beer tent – a very important part of the fete. I was always involved in school life and absolutely thrived on it.

To this day, I attend most of the school reunions and keep in touch with my old school pals. My school days defined me and made me the man I am today, although my academic successes were not noteworthy, it didn’t dim my confidence when I was considering my future at 18.

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