Dyslexia Association 

of Bexley Bromley Greenwich & Lewisham

Helping dyslexic people of all ages by providing information and support

My Dyslexia Journey


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Interview with Charles
Furniture Maker / Property Investor

What led you to your current career as a Property Investor?
I started life when I left school as an antique restorer and went to the London College of furniture at the same time as a furniture maker and designer, I found practical things easy, but was always told that was best for me as I struggle to read and write. 

However, I always went to English classes in the evenings on and off for around 20 years, during that time I was diagnosed with dyslexia and was given some guidance on how to learn differently, which helped a lot.

I continued to learn until 2013 when I did an AQA equivalent to a GCSE, which I enjoyed as I had a very enthusiastic English teacher who loved Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol. Which I also love now with all the things I learned about and the meaning behind it and the poverty at the time.

I went on to design and sell my furniture and went to South London Innovation Centre to use their machinery for this, then volunteered to help others use the equipment and machinery then was offered a job there, I then purchased my mums’ property for her then my second property for me.

I ended up as the managing director after the South London Innovation Centre lost its funding, as the new director I managed to put a new application in and got over a million pounds of funding for it to continue. And put in place a public private finance option for it to continue longer needing less public money. 

I then went onto making my own furniture full time but the furniture making was not making the money I wanted, I thought back to buying my first flat and how I like seeing the potential in properties that needed work or could be configured differently.

To the surprise of the artist that I worked with at the time I decided to become an estate agent to understand how things worked in more detail. 

After telling very rich property developers and people how I would change the layout of a particular property to gain an extra room or make it more usable, I noticed they would listen and take my advice, sale or let it or re-mortgage it and make lots of money. 

I also noticed that not all people could not see what I could see when it came to improving properties and layouts. It was easy and obvious to me when I walked into a space, but most people and buyers would say to me" you would say it ok as you are an estate agent" which I thought was funny. 

Then I started to buy my own property and started to do work for myself, making a studio into a one bed or a one bed into a two bed so on or generally improve the condition of the property to sell or let and knowing how all the finance and legal side worked I got on with it. 

It is funny, it turned out most of my work was reading writing and retaining information, as a director doing grant applications, contracts of employment, articles of association and all the things related to running a company. Also, as an estate agent and a buyer, seller and a landlord there is a lot of legal things you need to read and understand and also write all of the time, with me thinking just my luck everything I need to do involves reading and writing!

What are the highlights of your career so far? / Which aspects do you enjoy the most?
Being free to do what I want when I want and having some money to do it, it has all been an enjoyable journey of learning. 

How has living with dyslexia shaped your life? Pros and Cons?
That is a difficult question to answer, it is like saying how has not having dyslexia shaped your life? It is what it is, it is my life. 

It has not shaped my life but has… 

It has help me I think, when I compare myself to the average person, I will read details and contract very slowly and carefully until I fully understand it and I will not sign anything without having the time and space to read it thoroughly.

I am less likely to fall into trouble signing something that does not work for me or is incorrect. I have found I am now more likely to find mistakes than others as I take more time to read important things.

If you could go back in time and talk to yourself at Primary school, what would you tell your younger self?
The same thing I have been telling myself: keep going, keep focused and practice makes better and if you really, really, really, want it. You need to put in whatever effort it needs! And you will get it one day.  When you look at very successful people you will find it didn't happen overnight and the people you think are clever are not as clever as you think they are.

If you could talk to yourself as you started your G.C.S.E.s, what advice would you give to your younger self?
Practice practice practice and enjoy.

But! This can only work if you are taught to your needs in the first place, if not say to your teachers:

‘I want to learn please tell me how, as I do not understand with the way you are teaching me, is there another way to learn this?’

In my view it is the teachers’ job to teach and not the leaners job to learn, if you teach well then, they will learn.

What is the biggest obstacle that you have overcome?
The frustration in not understanding why I cannot do what others "seem" able to do easily. I have found that there are a lot of people that have fallen through the net, so things are not as they seem. 

Was there a particular person who helped you?
Lots of good teachers on the way Mr DeSalvo at Primary School, Mr Fitzpatrick at secondary and Mr Walsh were like friends and Julia Wheeler the adult education teacher with passion for a job.

Do you have any advice for young people who are navigating life with dyslexia?
Believe you can do anything you want to do; you just need to find the right tools to do it well.

Would you like to inspire others with your Dyslexia Journey?

Contact us at info@dyslexiawise.co.uk if you would like to provide a written contribution, or record an audio or video for us.

Telephone us:
0300 999 1800

Post to us:
Community House, South Street, Bromley, Kent BR1 1RH

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