Aspire2inspire Dyslexia Annual Inspirational Dyslexic Speakers Event

Powerful speakers show that dyslexia can be a gift not a problem

Speakers at the event

Speakers at the event: (L-R) Tonisha Tagoe, Gershom J. Allen, Gaby Holford, Pennie Aston, Jannette Morgan; photo Julian Jackson

The annual Aspire2inspire Dyslexia (A2i) evening is always worth waiting for. Wandsworth saw a remarkable line-up of inspirational dyslexic people who showed how being bullied or called “stupid” in school was not going to stop them achieving their ambitions. Elizabeth Kwarteng-Amaning, the founder and CEO of the non-profit organisation, said “Welcome to our third year of inspirational dyslexic speakers who will share their stories, and how their struggles resulted in inspiration. Some of these speakers changed my life completely.”

Downstairs at Caius House in SW11 there was an exhibition of organisations and equipment vendors who help dyslexics and people with other challenges. The team behind Irlen glasses – which assist people who have reading problems due to imperfect colour vision, and the C-pen which scans and reads information, were there.

Tonisha Tagoe, a dyslexic lecturer, introduced the event, with the first speaker being Margaret Rooke, an author who is not dyslexic but has written several acclaimed books about dyslexia and has a dyslexic daughter: Creative, Successful, Dyslexicinterviewed various successful dyslexics; and the wryly-named Dyslexia is My Superpower (Most of the Time) takes a positive view of dyslexia in children and adults. Margaret advises “Focus on your strengths.”

The next speaker was Jasmine “Jazzy” Hearts, a 13 year old dyslexic, bullied at school, who has become a speaker and ambassador for dyslexia. Many people in the audience identified with her struggles as schools can be very cruel places to anyone who seems a bit “different”. She uses her gift for speaking to help other people now. Councillor Ian Lewer, the Deputy Mayor of Wandsworth Council, who came out publicly as dyslexic at last year’s event, said he was lucky enough to be diagnosed early and got special schooling, and extra time in exams which enabled him to start on a successful career.

After a food break the second session started with a non-dyslexic, Jannette Morgan, who supports people with dyslexia, who amazed the attendees by giving her speech in poetry. It was hard for anyone to follow that. Pennie Aston, the Founder of GroOops dyslexia charity and Gaby Holford a nutritionist and healer gave presentations on different aspects of having a positive lifestyle.

Gershom J. Allen is a very forceful speaker who says “It is all about accepting who you are, before you can become” (that is, who you want to be). His journey took him from being beaten at school in Montserrat for not being able to read, to working his way up in a factory from sweeping the floor to supervisor. “Every person with dyslexia has a gift. There are special people that are meant to do great things.” He became a coach, and a motivational speaker, like his heroes such as Tony Robbins.

Many of the speakers were quite candid about their struggles and the psychological pain of undiagnosed dyslexia, although it does seem that schools are getting better at spotting this early on and getting help to those who need it.

(L-R) Elizabeth Kwarteng-Amaning with Pennie Aston and Tonisha Tagoe

Overall it showed that many dyslexics find a different path in life – using their artistic, verbal, intuitive or empathic skills to benefit themselves and wider society, and that dyslexia can be a “gift” rather than a handicap.

Julian Jackson is Wandsworth Chamber’s blogger, whose interests encompass technology, cryptocurrencies and blockchain, the environment, as well as photography and film. His portfolio is here:

Learning Differently – How Dyslexic Entrepreneurs Achieve Success

Elizabeth Kwarteng-Amaning introducing the Dyslexic Entrepreneurs event

Aspire2inspire Dyslexia – the community interest dyslexic support organisation created by Elizabeth Kwarteng-Amaning with only £1.25 a few years ago is powering along. On Tuesday, as part of Wandsworth Enterprise Week, it hosted a trio of dyslexic entrepreneurs who showed how they had built businesses and careers, despite being thought failures at school.

All three felt that their “learning differently” approach allowed them to excel in areas that require creativity and “thinking outside the box.”

Charlotte Childs, who runs a marketing and design consultancy said, “I got thrown out of school. I think in pictures and patterns, so writing is very difficult for me.” She set up her own company after she got tired of the linear thinking of conventional businesses. When she was diagnosed in her thirties, her struggles made sense.

There is research that supports the idea that dyslexics can channel their frustrations, obstacles and original modes of thinking and problem solving into careers where these are recognised and rewarded. Obviously more dyslexics become creative professionals, artists, designers and film-makers, rather than lawyers: rule- and word-bound structures do not appeal to them.

L-R: Dale Smith, Leslie Lewis Walker, Charlotte Childs

Leslie Lewis Walker is a video-maker and musician. He did an interactive presentation, where he gave out Post-its with a couple of words on, and riffed off that for his talk. He initially got a job in the Home Office, where he could use his people skills to sort out emergency visas, which involved schmoozing Consular personnel, which he excelled at. He was promoted due to his fine performance, and found himself in a job where meetings and minute-taking were required, and he wasn’t able to deliver the right material. He got frustrated and “bungee-jumped” into film-making for businesses because he can deliver “thinking outside the box” to communicate ideas effectively.

Business development coach Dale Smith said, “We have been blessed by thinking differently.” As a schoolchild, he was sent to the “Special Needs” class. Fortunately the inspiring teacher did not see him and the other pupils as “stupid” but people who needed nurturing to find their strengths. After succeeding in various conventional jobs, Dale got frustrated with where he was, and started his own business Bridge Consulting, “To help people embrace the best version of themselves.”

Elizabeth Kwarteng-Amaning said, “The Successful Dyslexic Entrepreneurs event 2018 was a life-changing experience for our attendees. A2i Dyslexia can help the individuals to unlock their full potential by setting up their own enterprise.”

The event was rounded off with a networking session and some lovely food.

Author: This article was written by Julian Jackson, Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce’s resident blogger and copywriter –

Photos by Julian Jackson

A2I Inspirational Dyslexia Speakers Event Report

Packed-out evening shows how people with dyslexia can use their abilities to have successful careers

The local community interest company Aspire 2 Inspire Dyslexia held a powerful event last week, drawing on the experiences of many dyslexic people who have conquered their affliction and made careers for themselves, with the intention of inspiring others. Some of the speakers thought that their dyslexia was almost an advantage – spurring them to use unconventional methods to mobilise their talents.

(L-R) Colin Fowler, Solomon Smith, Remi Ray; Photo: Julian Jackson

Soloman Smith is the founder of Brixton Soup Kitchen. When he was a schoolboy he recounted the hilarious tale of himself blagging a free coach trip to an amusement park for his schoolmates. Apparently the amusement park staff were quite stunned when the “Key Youth Worker” that Solomon pretended to be on the phone, was only 14!

The evening was organised by Elizabeth Kwarteng-Amaning, the founder of non-profit A2i dyslexia, who compered the many speakers. It was attended by the Mayor and the room was rammed to the rafters. Attendees enjoyed a lovely buffet in the interval, provided by the venue, Caius House.

Elizabeth Kwarteng-Amaning; Photo: Julian Jackson

Elizabeth Kwarteng-Amaning; Photo: Julian Jackson

Speakers were:

Colin Fowler Generate: Creates opportunities for people with learning difficulties

Solomon Smith Founder of Brixton Soup Kitchen

Remi Ray Hidden Creatives: Inspiring creative young people with dyslexia

Yves Newlove The Newlove experience motivational networker

Joanna Smith Personal Assistant for people with specific learning difficulties

Leslie Lewis-Walker Founder of Out of the Box Thinkers and Videographer

Adijat Mumunie Director of Begin2Sports group

Enrico Riva Assisted Technology Specialist

Dianne Greyson Equilibrium Mediation Consulting

Margaret Hurley Founder of Original Organics and Chef.

There was also a guest spot for Harry, a dyslexic young lad and his mum. Harry is taking on the challenge of a 5K run to raise funds for A2i.

Some of the panel had very difficult upbringings, where there dyslexia was undiagnosed. Although it seems that awareness of the issue is better nowadays, there is still a way to go. One speaker talked about getting to college, receiving an assistive computer, which came with a huge printed manual – so it stayed in its box, unused!

There was a very wide range of different careers that the speakers represented, from a technology specialist to an organic chef. Most of them recounted painful experiences when they were younger, of schoolteachers dismissing them a “lazy” or “stupid” instead of realising they had dyslexia. Many of the speakers chose to create their own businesses or enterprises, to avoid having to do conventional things like filling in forms. So it seemed that there is a spirit of entrepreneurialism in the dyslexia community. They were adept at finding niche markets where their unique skills would be in demand, and creating portfolios of different types of work so they could make their way in the world using the abilities they knew they had.

You can find our more about the programmes of help for dyslexic people on A2i’s website:

Author: This article was written by Julian Jackson, Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce’s resident blogger and copywriter –



Next In Tech Conference October 5th Coming Soon

Find out more about upcoming technologies and build your business!

nextintech logo

Wandsworth Digitech are launching a major conference next month. Called Next In Tech, and supported by Wandsworth Council, it aims to give businesses an insight into what will be upcoming technologies. With a pretty starry lineup it deploys people from Microsoft, Linkedin, MetroBank and numerous others.

Soraya Laverty, Co-founder of Wandsworth Digitech says, “The technology industry is moving at an enormous pace. No matter what business sector you are in, your company will revolve around technology that you use.” The conference is going to show businesses what are the trends they have to look out for.

Running from 9 am to 3 pm on Thursday October 5th 2017, and utilising the splendid venue of the Wandsworth Civic Suite in the Town Hall, the organisers expect 100-150 attendees. Laverty feels than any more than that would make the event more impersonal. There will be refreshments, and plenty of opportunities for networking between the scheduled sessions.

Seminars include: Turning adversity into success – From failure to the fastest growing tech services company in the UK by keynote speaker Mike Hockey, Co-Founder of IT services company Roc Technologies.

There will be a wide number of different topics covered during the programme, including General Data Protection Regulations, Preparing your Tech Business for Sale, Blockchain and Etherium, AI – The golden age of opportunity and using automation to improve staff engagement, and various panel sessions.

The profits will go to supporting, a Wandsworth-based charity which offers training and employment support for disabled people.

Soraya continues, “This conference will help to demystify tech, we will find out how those tech guys got to where they are, and make life easier for upcoming businesses in the Borough. I’m sure it will be an exciting event and I look forward to seeing people there.”

Author: This article was written by Julian Jackson, Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce’s resident blogger and copywriter –


Exciting Half-Day Course: Drive Your Business to the Next Level

Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce have partnered with highly-experienced business trainers Beverley Corson and Bryan Charter to create the Engineering Business Growth Club. Beverley says, “Do you want to look back on the next twelve months and be proud and astonished by the progress you and your business have made?”

The objective of the event on 21st April is to give business owners the opportunity to invest time to think and plan their way forward for the next year.

Owners can be too focussed on the moment and the ongoing demands of their business, and this is where you will look at the bigger goals.

Beverley says, “We believe you need to have a clear picture of where you’re going and then develop a strategy for getting there. This in turn will help you to make better decisions in the moment about what to invest in, where to focus your efforts and where to invest your time if you want to grow.”

The half-day workshop, is being held on 21st April at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Battersea.

During this workshop business leaders will:

Review their performance over the last year and extract the key lessons to feed into even better results over the year to come.

Learn strategies, processes and activities that are worth doing more of so they can build on them. Learn from past failures and analyse issues to identify solutions and avoid mistakes.

Clarify their vision for the next 12 months and what the next level is in their business.

“After attending this event me and my business partner were totally clear on how we needed to move forward and what to focus on next – we’d recommend it to any business wanting to grow!”, said Dom Thorpe, of Wireless Fitness Ltd after attending the previous session of this workshop earlier in the year.

The event takes place at: Crowne Plaza London
Bridges Wharf Battersea
SW11 3BE London
Friday, 21 April 2017 from 09:00 to 12:00

Cost £25.00 inc VAT.

To book

Businesses will also get an opportunity for ongoing development with the Engineering Business Growth Club. Both this event and the Business Growth Club are being delivered in partnership with Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce.

Author: This article was written by Julian Jackson, Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce’s resident blogger and copywriter –

Wandsworth DigiTech Networks with Technology People

Wandsworth DigiTech meeting; Photo Julian Jackson

On Tuesday Wandsworth DigiTech held one of its regular networking meetings. Supported by Wandsworth Council and Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce, this is a new programme, only started three months ago, to help technology companies in the Borough reach their objectives.

Around 30 people were present, to listen to Dave Clarke of Benemen give an interesting talk about the benefits of various communication methods for business. Afterwards there was a Q & A where the usefulness of different solutions like Slack and G Suite were discussed in a lively manner.

There were lots of opportunities to network in a friendly environment. Most of the participants were from technology companies of various sorts, but there were some traditional-type businesses such as a property development and management company which was there to gain insights into how technology could improve their business performance.

Benemen run a cloud-based technology communications platform. Dave Clarke said, “One of the ways business has changed is the way the internet has allowed very small organisations to compete with very large ones.” He noted how different communications channels were flexible and relevant to different people and projects. “Communications is the difference between failure and success, and you really need to communicate with your customers on the channels they want to to communicate with you on.”

Networking at Wandsworth DigiTech; Photo by Soraya Lavery

Steve Pinto, CEO of Wandsworth Chamber praised a technology: “PISF2F brings out the synergy in business. It stands for ‘Professional Information Sharing Face-to-Face.’” That got a laugh – but Steve was making the point that even in a digital world, you still need personal meetings and engagement.

Soraya Lavery, COO of CPG Executive Consulting Ltd, which runs the Wandsworth DigiTech programme explained that their mission was to assist technology companies of all sizes to get where they wanted to go. There are around 3000 technology companies in the borough, and so there are many opportunities for synergies. “We want to build a big network that is self-sustaining.” They will be holding a Tech Summit in September to exchange ideas between participants in various organisations and companies.

Author: This article was written by Julian Jackson, Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce’s resident blogger and copywriter –

New Community Dyslexia Organisation Wins Council Funding

Aspire2inspire Dyslexia is a new charitable organisation in Wandsworth, founded in April 2016 by Elizabeth Kwarteng-Amaning as a response to her dyslexia. She didn’t learn to read or write until she was 15 years old. Bullied by at school other children who asked if she was, “Slow, lazy or stupid?” Clearly, she isn’t, having not only a degree but post-graduate qualifications, but the lack of diagnosis has been a hampering factor.

Although she eventually received support while she was at University, she felt there was a lack of both awareness and one-to-one support for people living with dyslexia. In a written-oriented culture dyslexics struggle with spelling, words, books, and the dreaded form to fill in – most people don’t like filling in forms, but it is much worse when words slip away from you.

So, undaunted, while she was unemployed, she started A2i Dyslexia with £1.25 because she felt the community needed this initiative. A team of volunteers helped out. “They’re really great, I couldn’t have done it without them,” says Elizabeth. The aim of the organisation is to increase awareness of dyslexia within the community and encourage entrepreneurship amongst dyslexic people. The organisation is planning to apply to become a registered charity.

At first, A2i Dyslexia was purely voluntary as Elizabeth felt she had to establish it and show that it works. After a Wandsworth Council Business Forum, she talked to millionaire Charlie Mullins, founder of Pimlico Plumbers, who was supportive. Recently A2i Dyslexia have just been awarded a £8799 grant from Wandsworth Council to implement small projects around the borough, particularly children’s services. Elizabeth says, “It’s very difficult being dyslexic – you feel ashamed and embarrassed. Dyslexia can have an impact on self-esteem and low confidence particularly with respect to reading and writing.” She also points out that many creative people, including Picasso, Cher, Benjamin Zephaniah as well as influential business leaders like Richard Branson are also dyslexic. Perhaps the struggle makes them more determined to succeed. Prolific crime novelist Agatha Christie was dyslexic, so had to contend with it every day, but she managed to write 66 novels as well as other works.

Elizabeth is currently studying for Level 7 Post Graduate Certificate in Dyslexia
Specialist Teaching and to be able to officially assess dyslexia in people, so they can receive the assistance they need. “I want people to be able to fulfil their potential,” she says, “that’s the aim behind A2i Dyslexia.”

Author: This article was written by Julian Jackson, Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce’s resident blogger and copywriter –

Highly Popular at the Houses of Parliament – Wandsworth Chamber Event

L-R Jane Ellison MP, Steve Pinto, Douglas Shanks

Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce held a highly popular event at the Jubilee Room of the Houses of Parliament last Thursday. As Battersea, Balham and Wandsworth MP Jane Ellison is President, members of the Chamber and guests were treated to an evening of networking, food and drink in pleasant surroundings.

Steve Pinto, the Chamber’s CEO caused some hilarity when he said that as there were several Chairmen present – he’d invited some Chairs of other Chambers of Commerce – so he had to address several people as Chairman.

Around 80 people attended, from many different businesses, organisations, and charities, including Chamber regulars, and people who were new or haven’t been to the friendly events before. The food was particularly good, supplied by Christopher Events caterers.

Jane Ellison, who is now a Minister at the Treasury, said, “I am here to hear from you directly about what you need from local and national government to support businesses.”

Steve Pinto says, “We are extremely grateful for the terrific support from all of our local MPs. Patron Memberships have been going well and Access Self Storage and LeBureau are upgrading to Patron Memberships.” Steve mentioned how the Chamber had introduced developers to the concept of co-working space, as exemplified by LeBureau.

Steve also talked about Lioness, the Wandsworth business loyalty card which is being planned at the moment, which also will raise money for local community work, and BBX – another method which allows businesses to trade off spare capacity.

The Engineering Business Growth programme will have mentoring and support for new and growing business ventures.

Sarah Banham, vice president of the Chamber and Director of Communications, Battersea Power Station Development Company told the audience, Phase One’s first resident moved in last Thursday. 866 Flats are available so people will move in gradually, plus the retail sites will open in the summer, then the Phase One parks will open later on. Lots of local companies are getting the operational side getting the development ready. “We want to support local businesses.” She talked a lot about Tunnel Boring Machines – all have to have names. There are five now tunnelling under that part of London.

Jobs and skills have been good for the local area, with a service excellence programme run by the Development. They also have a charity arm called the Battersea Power Station Foundation, which gives small grants to grassroots organisations. It is not just residential, but commercial, retail and leisure spaces.

Creative Events are launching a Wandsworth Business Digital Magazine to help local businesses to flourish – initially there will be three issues per year.

Chairman Douglas Shanks gave a humorous round-up speech where he explained

how much personal benefit his long membership of the Chamber had given him. He seconded Steve Pinto’s appreciation of Wandsworth Council’s Economic Development Office (EDO) which has been consistent in its support of the Chamber and local businesses.

Author: This article was written by Julian Jackson, Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce’s resident blogger and copywriter –

Wandsworth Business Awards Triumph for Local Companies

This is the fourth year that Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce has presented its business awards. This year was the biggest yet, with 260 people attending a black tie sit-down meal, gourmet-catered by local foodies Anson and Curtis.

At the presentation taking place in the council’s Civic Suite, were many local businesses, competing for 12 awards in various categories, from Best Family Business to Best Hospitality.

Steve Pinto CEO, Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce, says, “Wandsworth Chamber were delighted to be able to continue the tradition of the Wandsworth Business Awards for the fourth successive year. The 2016 Business Awards and Gala Dinner celebrations exceeded all expectations with a record number of businesses and key stakeholders attending. These Awards highlight some of the most vibrant businesses in the borough and set a high benchmark for aspiring local talent. Our sponsors are very supportive and without their help these businesses would not have the opportunity to be recognised, so please visit our website and engage with our Winners, Finalists and Sponsors. …and if you run a business we would love to see you enter next year’s Awards.”

The awards are the high point of the local business calendar, with Wandsworth comedian John Maloney giving the awards a polished hosting and speeches by Chamber Chairman Douglas Shanks and President Jane Ellison MP.

Category and Winner:

1. Best Green Business

Wandsworth Oasis

2. Best Family Friendly Business

The Putney Clinic

3. Commitment to the Community

Battersea Power Station Development Company

4. Best Hospitality

Brickwood Coffee & Bread

5. Best Marketing

Boot Buddy

6. Best Customer Service

The Hive Honey Shop

7. Best Training & Development

Julius Rutherfoord & Co

8. Best Independent Retailer

We Brought Beer

9. Best SME Business

Assael Architecture

10. Best New Business

Crossfit Shapesmiths

11. Entrepreneur of the Year

Le Bureau

12. Business of the Year

Minar Jewellers

Tooting Market

The main sponsors of the awards were Wandsworth Council and Southside Shopping Centre. The awards show that Wandsworth is a thriving place for business and commerce, and they show excellence in the winning businesses and the many other participants who continue to make the Borough a great place to do business.

Photo by Charlie Round-Turner

Author: This article was written by Julian Jackson, Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce’s resident blogger and copywriter –

Wandsworth Celebrates the Business Awards on 8th December


Annually Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce celebrates the best in the Borough’s business by having a large and prestigious ceremony to recognise the best and blossoming companies in the area.

There are 11 award categories, including Entrepreneur of the Year, Best New Business and Best Independent Retailer. This will be a hotly-contested event, with a real diversity of different businesses being judged on their merits.

Steve Pinto, CEO of Wandsworth Chamber says, “This is one of the high points of our calendar, with businesses of all types being given awards which show their commitment to better business.”

The Wandsworth Business Awards 2016 Ceremony and Gala Dinner Dance take place on

Thursday 8th December 2016

18:30 onwards at the Wandsworth Civic Suite, Wandsworth High Street
London SW18 2PU. Over 250 guests are expected at the celebration.

Businesses that win can display their award and will be able to show that they have reached a standard of product or service admired by the rest of the business community. The awards are sponsored by Wandsworth Council, Indian Room, Indian Moment, South London Press, Banham Group, Southside, South Thames College and the University of Roehampton.

Register for this event at

Tickets: £69.00 – non-members: £69.00 (Excluding VAT).

Author: This article was written by Julian Jackson, Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce’s resident blogger and copywriter –