BDA Ambassadors

BDA Ambassador is an honorary title given to individuals who have, often through extensive work of a voluntary nature, raised awareness of dyslexia. The honorary title BDA Ambassador does not imply endorsement of any services or products provided by the individual concerned. Indeed, the BDA does not endorse any external services or products.

BDA Young Ambassador

Jo Crawford

Jo was diagnosed with dyslexia when she was in Year 2, so has gone through most of her education knowing she's dyslexic.

"I did struggle a lot in school, I failed the 11+, I felt extremely stupid and couldn't even do the basics, it got to the point that my maths teacher told me I was going to fail my Maths GCSE, and would have to leave my school. I think what was the worst part though, was that I had to face a lot of ignorance surrounding dyslexia, even teachers telling me I could never get in, let alone apply for a Russell Group University."

To overcome the stigma, Jo created this documentary on dyslexia and subsequently became a Young Ambassador for the BDA because of her commitment to raising dyslexia awareness.

Jo is passionate about educating people on dyslexia, as she has found it has helped a lot of her friends realise that they are dyslexic themselves, as well as giving a positive outlook on dyslexia!

Despite what she was told by some teachers, she is now studying Philosophy at the University of Exeter! 

BDA Ambassadors

Anna Devin

Irish Soprano Anna Devin is widely acknowledged as one of today’s brightest talents for her vocal versatility and strong stage presence.  She has established an international career since graduating from the Royal Opera House’s Jette Parker Young Artist programme in 2012. Highlights of the 2015/6 season include Handel’s Saul with Glyndebourne Touring Opera; her Welsh National Opera company debut as Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro; concerts at Mozartwoche in Salzburg and Lausanne Bach Festival and her debut at Teatro alla Scala. 

However, as a child, Anna had difficulties acquiring literacy and was eventually found to be dyslexic. Supported very heavily by her mother to strive for success, Anna has clearly achieved this. We asked her what her view was of being dyslexic and what she would say to other young people on finding they are dyslexic.

“Being different is not a bad thing. Not fitting in with the crowd is a blessing, as we all have our own journey and being forced to find your own path brings originality. It’s not going to be easy and don’t expect to be spoon-fed. You must take control of yourself and your own learning and find the skills and ways that work best for your unique brain.”

Jonty Hearnden

Jonty Hearnden is one of the most recognisable faces on TV when it comes to antiques and collectables. His TV career began in 1997 when he became one of the experts on the Antiques Road Show. Since then he is best known for his many appearances on BBC1’s Cash in the Attic, Celebrity Cash in the Attic and the highly successful Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.

Jonty was aware of facing difficulties from a very early age and was diagnosed with dyslexia when he was 12. However, he found not many people understood about the disability 40 years ago.

Jonty was made a BDA Ambassador for his services towards raising awareness at the 2014 Annual BDA Dyslexia Awards, where he hosted the live auction and has continued to do so since then.

 "I still think there is a stigma attached to being dyslexic so I would like to help dispel this if I can and promote the positive aspects of it. If the general public can see people like me openly talking about it in positive terms, then those that do not have the confidence to speak out might feel more inclined to do so."

Grant Harrold, The Royal Butler

Grant Harrold, ‘The Royal Butler’ and ‘Defender of Etiquette’, has been described as ‘Britain’s Etiquette Expert’ and ‘One of Europe’s Top Gurus on Etiquette’ due to his background and teaching on the subject for almost 20 years. Grant is a former butler and member of the Royal Household of Their Royal Highnesses, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, based at Highgrove House in The Cotswolds. 

Grant is now a Royal and British etiquette expert and a Royal commentator, public speaker, and a trainer of butlers and housekeepers for principals and their staff in the UK and worldwide. He is regularly called upon as an advisor to Royals and celebrities, as well as his VIP clients.

Grant has recently joined us as a BDA Ambassador to work with us towards creating a dyslexia-friendly society for all.

Darren Clark

Darren Clark is the Director of the ‘Spotless Group’, a group of successful cleaning and training companies based in the south-west of England. Having only been diagnosed with dyslexia in his late thirties, he left school with no qualifications and had to work extremely hard to earn his previous position as regional manager for one of the largest food retailers in the UK. Darren decided that raising awareness for dyslexia was paramount in order for it to be recognised early, and wants to inspire in every generation the knowledge that dyslexia is actually a superpower that allows you to see things differently, and you can be successful regardless.

Having spent most of the last few years talking to school students, he is now working internationally with his most recent trip to Kenya having a huge impact and leading to many more worldwide engagements. Being an ambassador for the BDA is a huge honour and will only support Darren’s mission to make a change for everyone struggling with dyslexia and lacking in self-worth.

“I really struggled at school, no matter how hard I tried I just didn’t seem to be learning at the same pace as my peers. Being asked to stand up in class would fill me with anxiety and I would come home to my family everyday feeling stupid and with crippling headaches. Each day at school I would hope that things would somehow be better, and my understanding of the lessons would suddenly improve. Sadly, this never happened. As I moved upwards through the years at school, more of my time would be spent in ‘The Unit’, a freezing portacabin in the far reaches of the school grounds where the ‘problem’ kids were sent to receive special help. The special help never materialised, and I came to understand that kids were sent to ‘The Unit’ to get them out of the way. No person should ever go to school or work feeling like that, and I want to assist in that change."