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Birmingham duo crowned winners at UK Dyslexia Awards

A Birmingham duo have been recognised at a glittering awards night to celebrate dyslexic people and those who support them.

Simon Washbrook, founder of Birmingham-based Popcorn CRM, received the Innovation trophy at the Dyslexia Awards whilst Tina Birring, who works at South and City College Birmingham, scooped the award for best Learning Support.

Winners from as far afield as Scotland and Northumbria also picked up awards at the celebration evening on September 24.

The ceremony was held at the Enginuity interactive museum in Coalbrookdale with about 100 guests present, and many more watching on live streams from around the country.

Simon – founder of the multi-award-winning company Popcorn CRM, providing lead management solutions to small businesses – was praised by judges for developing his business idea into a commercially viable service in a tricky and crowded marketplace.

It’s the second time he has won the award for Innovation having scooped the title back in 2020.

Receiving the award, he said: “I’m truly gobsmacked and honoured to have won this award for the second time. It’s the cherry on the cake after a really successful couple of weeks for the business and I really hope it inspires other dyslexic people with dreams of owning their own business to never give up.”

Simon admits to being labelled ‘stupid’ at school and told that he wouldn’t achieve because of his dyslexia. It was a stigma which stuck with him through to early adulthood.

He said: “I was 21 and at university when I was eventually diagnosed as dyslexic, and it changed everything. I was able to see that I wasn’t stupid and that I just saw and did things differently and for me that was a good thing. From that moment on, I just knew to never give up.”

Simon founded Popcorn CRM 16 years ago and now employs a small team of individuals. The company has recently been named as Free Agent’s official CRM partner.

Meanwhile, Tina, who has provided dyslexia support to hundreds of students at South and City College during the last 17 years, was recognised for her empathetic support and understanding of dyslexic students and helping them to succeed.

She said: “It means the absolute world to me to be able to support students to reach their potential and succeed. Many students who I see for the first time lack the confidence to progress with their studies but with the right support they can and do succeed.

“I’m absolutely honoured and privileged to have won this award.”

Awards founder Elizabeth Wilkinson MBE said the celebration event was a wonderful evening. She said: “All nine awards were open to nominations from right across the UK, and the judges were overjoyed with the quality of entries in all sections.

“It is fabulous to hear so many stories of dyslexic people putting their stamp on the world, as well as the heart-warming stories of the tutors, teachers and support staff who believe in their students. I know first-hand how empowering that is, not just in the classroom but later on in life too. Educators who truly recognise and nurture talent leave an indelible mark with people for life!

“Dyslexic people can and do achieve amazing things, and I am delighted that Simon and Tina have been recognised for their achievements and I hope their success helps to inspire and motivate others to follow their dreams.”

The Dyslexia Awards showcase the diverse skills and strengths of dyslexic people and recognise those who empower them to succeed.

Eli is dyslexic herself and has run the Dyslexic Dyslexia Consultant business since 2007 and worked in the field of dyslexia for 22 years. She was awarded an MBE for her services to dyslexia in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

She is committed to showcasing the commitment and inspiration of educators, marking the achievements of dyslexic individuals and celebrating diversity in the workplace to bring about positive changes in society.

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(Left) Simon Washbook, founder of PopcornCRM and winner for the Innovation Award and (right) Tina Birring, winner of the Learning Support Award.

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