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Denis Allen - Thank you for your help with my Dyslexia


I am a retired government scientist, and I started my career at RAE Farnborough. I was telling the grandchildren about things that were important to me in my life, when it occurred to me there was one man who was significant in my life, but I didn't understand it at the time. I would love to be able to thank my Head of Space Department, Dennis Allen. When I wrote my reports on the experiments I had done, he would correct my English and without any comment to me publish the report. Without his kindness and encouragement I would never have ended up as I did.


I had done badly at school, and after school I took a few O and A Levels at the local Technical College. I then went to the local Job Service, and they suggested that with my interest in model aircraft I should work at the RAE. My response was an amazed, "I couldn't work there, could I?" I started 1963.


What no one had realised was that I was dyslexic. Then Dyslexia wasn't recognised as it is now and was why I had had such difficulty at school. I only realised that I was dyslexic when I sat in on our daughter’s dyslexia assessment when she was at school, and I was amazed at how much of what was said applied to me. At junior school it was normal to be hit on the back of the hand with a ruler if you couldn't spell. On one occasion I remember spending a number of evenings working very hard on a homework essay, but when I handed it in I was summoned to the head mistress’s office. She told me firmly that she would not accept the sort of lazy, shoddy work that I had handed in and she gave me six strokes of the cane. I was very shocked as I had put a huge amount of time and effort into writing it.


In my senior school it was not so harsh, but in my first year I was taken out of the French class with the comment, "Beattie, we recommend that you master your mother tongue before you attempt anybody else's."


Because of Dennis Allen's support and the facilities available within RAE, including later, the development of Bill Gates’ spell checker, I was able to continue my studies as part of my work on day release, and I was able to use the work I was doing in the laboratory as part of my studies gaining

Grad Inst Physics. I then gained a Masters in experimental nuclear physics. I was then elected a member of the IoP and awarded the status of Chartered Physicist.


However, I believe, the most important thing that got me going was the encouragement of Dennis Allen, to whom I owe a huge thank you. I just wish I had understood what he had done for me at the time and been able to say thank you to him.

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