Here at Nessy we see Richard Branson as a prime example of what people with dyslexia can achieve and how much they can do to raise awareness for others. With Branson turning 67 today we want to celebrate his birthday and all that he’s achieved – in part, thanks to his dyslexia. We’ll also take a look at his new charity ‘Made by Dyslexia’ and what it’s doing to help raise awareness and provide help.
Name: Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson
Birthday: 18 July 1950, age 67
Birthplace: Blackheath, London
Family: Wife Joan Templeman, two children – Holly and Sam.
Net worth: Upwards of $5.2 billion
Awards: Richard Branson has received many awards, recognitions and honours over the years. He has two honorary degrees, one from Loughborough University and another from Kaunas Technology University in Lithuania. He has also won the Business for Peace award, has been recognised as a no. 1 LGBT ally and in 2000 was knighted by Charles, Prince of Wales, henceforth being known as Sir Richard Branson.
World Records: An avid record breaker, Richard Branson is the oldest person to cross the English Channel by kiteboard, richest presenter of reality television, fastest Pacific Ocean crossing (Japan to Arctic Canada) by hot air balloon, first hot air balloon crossing of the Atlantic and he holds the record for most followers on LinkedIn. He has a long list of record attempts and successes under his belt. You can read a full list here.
Bibliography: Richard Branson has also written seven books about his life, career, dyslexia and later successes, his first book was entitled ‘Losing my Virginity’.
When leaving school Richard Branson’s headmaster famously said, “he would either end up in prison or become a millionaire.”
Richard left school at 15 and initially started a record business, selling for far less than high street chains in order to grow his business and eventually launch his own record label Virgin Records, who would go on to sign the Sex Pistols, Rolling Stones, Peter Gabriel and UB40 amongst other big names. After it became the world’s largest independent record label and in order to keep his new airline company afloat, Branson sold the label for £500 million in 1992.
He did not openly talk about his dyslexia until his 20’s, it was during his creation of Virgin airlines that he realised the advantages his dyslexia had given him and how it shaped his outlook and approach to business.
Virgin Airlines and Dyslexia
Richard Branson founded Virgin Atlantic Airways in 1983 with American-born lawyer Randolph Fields and former chief pilot for Laker Airways, Alan Hellary. He later expanded Virgin to include trains, telephone and broadband services, and a private healthcare service amongst other ventures, forming what is now known as the ‘Virgin Group’.
Made by Dyslexia
Richard Branson initially announced his plans for his new global charity ‘Made by Dyslexia’ on April 1st in line with April Fool’s day claiming that he was launching the world’s first dyslexic sperm bank.
Whilst this was a joke, it had a real meaning and purpose behind it. For example, the London Sperm Bank did not accept dyslexics until this campaign began, and introducing his charity in this way ensured it garnered attention and awareness quickly.
Led by founder and CEO Kate Griggs, Made By Dyslexia is intended to help diagnose dyslexia, change perceptions surrounding it and to “work with governments, charities, schools and parents to ensure all dyslexic children are identified early and given the support they need.”
“Dyslexics are round pegs in square holes when it comes to school. We don’t fit that well unless our way of thinking is recognised and supported.”
Kate Griggs, CEO and Founder of Made By Dyslexia