I had a very strong and loving family upbringing, however, school seemed to focus on what I could not do instead of building on what I could do. When I was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of 14 my school was finally able to understand why I struggled to spell simple words like my name as I see and hear B/D/P and I/A, the wrong way round. Unfortunately, there wasn’t the structure and the knowledge at the time to truly help me.
Despite this, I had an inner drive to join the Royal Navy to be a diver. I passed the entry exam, medical and my first interview before I told my parents as I then needed my dad’s signature to attend a second interview and to sign the paperwork due to my age. I joined the Royal Navy in October 1989 aged 16.
The Royal Navy’s approach was completely different and this helped me to build my confidence so I could express and challenging myself to undertake and achieve fulfilment throughout my career with them.
My first role was as a Radar Operator which was an entry position as a Junior Seaman where I served in Iraq in 1990/91. I qualified as a Ships Diver in 1992 and served in the former Yugoslavia in 1995. I was then selected to undertake the rigorous Physical Training Instructor training and became a qualified PTI in 1996. In 2000 I was part of the Royal Navy’s Physical Training Team where I visited schools and colleges throughout the country promoting careers in the Royal Navy. I also delivered a course designing activities, which challenged, rewarded and developed self-confidence and values of teamwork with young people aged 16 – 24 from diverse backgrounds
I was given a one year’s secondment as a Sports Development Office with the Federation of London Youth, which is responsible for 540 youth clubs within the London Boroughs. I was involved in helping young people interact in sport by identifying and creating pathways into the sporting field of their choice with the aim of highlighting a career within the Royal Navy. Unfortunately, due to my injury, I was eventually medically discharged from the Royal Navy in October 2002.
All of this experience highlighted I had skills and aptitude to support children, young people and their families so I moved into teaching with my first role being in Islington London in January 2003. In this role, my primary focus was on young people who were at high risk of exclusion from formal education. The programme I delivered through SkillForce was aimed at giving them the skills and aspirations to be successful at school and in life. In 2007 I was appointed a Cheshunt Extended Schools manager and Assistant Head at Turnford School. Extended Schools was a government initiative aimed at providing opportunities for children and their families outside of normal school hours.
My personal experiences especially around my own journey through school including the late diagnosis of dyslexia and the effect it had on my self-esteem and lack of confidence made me want to help children and young people reach their full potential. I wanted to bring the way the Royal Navy supported, educated and gave me the opportunities to develop as a person to other young people to enable them to feel proud of their achievements and give them the confidence to ask for support and help when needed. From this, I decided to create the charity CHEXS to help children, young people and their families.
I am committed to the values that underpin the work of CHEXS and strive to help support families and the local community! I have a passion for delivering high-quality services that support families and develops needs led programmes that bring together families and local communities! This involves looking beyond formal educational structures and looking at what is required to facilitate strong family relationships and enable families to interact and become involved with the wider community. These include enrichment projects for Children & Young People, supporting their learning and development but also producing a wider benefit to the whole community! I believe I have a clear understanding of the current challenges facing families and local community and I am constantly exploring potential new collaborations across the public, voluntary and private sectors to enable families to source the support they need.