In 1981, former Motorsport rally navigator David Richards joined forces with rally driver Ari Vatnen as his co-driver to win the World Rally championship; David found out later in life that he was dyslexic at the same time as his son was tested, mirroring the experience of another Motorsport marvel, Sir Jackie Stewart.
Although David was a familiar face in Motorsport he realised that he would never be a world champion driver. Curiously, he said, “Dyslexia gives me a great benefit when it comes to navigation”.
At school he was particularly good at maths which explains the initial direction of his career into accountancy. He admits that like others he never reached his full potential but this never dampened his spirits. In fact, being dyslexic worked in his favour and led to a diverse career.
David acquired the skill of working around issues and believes that he is also very strong in verbal reasoning. He also learnt how to disguise his shortcomings by dictating everything he does. The use of modern technology, like voice recognition, has helped enormously. He believes that the next generation will never have to face the same problems that he did.
David realises the importance for a child to be diagnosed and supported at an early stage but that identification of dyslexia is not consistent across the education system. Self-esteem is a critical factor. He feels that if this can’t be achieved in the classroom, then by doing something else, for example sport, a child can gain respect from their peer group.
Duncan Goodhew, who is dyslexic, also found success away from academia. He won a gold medal in swimming at the Olympic Games. It came as no great surprise to Richards to discover that another three times World Formula 1, Lewis Hamilton, was also dyslexic. David says you often see people being put at the back of the class because of their shortcomings and they don’t shine until much later.