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Interview with Aaron Locke, who was one of the Year 7-9 Winners of our Story Competition Winner. We asked what he has been doing in the last 10 years.

 

Aaron Locke

And can I also just confirm that you have

Dyslexia and mild dyspraxia (during my A-levels, I was also diagnosed with ADD)

Can you please tell me what led you to take part in the Altformat Story Competition back in 2008

The competition was found by my one-to-one support teacher Mrs. Bacchus. She encouraged me to enter, and so we began considering themes and as history is my passion, I knew that I wanted to write a historical story.

What was the inspiration behind your winning entry ‘An Unforgettable Dream’

If I recall, the contest stated that our story had to be about a dream (or at least, that was the theme). As mentioned above, history being my passion I chose a historical setting that I was studying at the time. I also wanted to consider the boundaries between reality and the dream-world.

Can you please tell us about being presented with your award by Sir Steve Redgrave at the House of Commons

Meeting Sir Steve Redgrave was exciting, particularly to do so in the House of Commons. If I recall, David Blunkett was also present which was exciting as it made me realise that SPLDs or other disabilities were no reason to hold you back. Looking back, the day in London I spent with my family and teacher I will remember forever as a happy, exciting and confidence-boosting day.

And can you remember what you and/or your school won as a prize?

I do - in addition to text-to-speech software (which I still use, and found immensely helpful while writing essays and dissertations), I won an iPod and a glass award statue in the shape of a star. All of the above I still have & use.

My school also won the software.

What was the immediate impact on you and/or your school of winning the competition?

The immediate impact on myself was to give me confidence, not only in the short-term, but in the longer term because the head of English put me in set 1 for English as a result. My history teacher was also my English teacher, not only one of the inspirations for the story, but the teacher likewise believed in me right the way through, even if at times I didn't believe in myself. 

The school made the software accessible to other pupils who found it useful, particularly in enhancing their writing skills and comprehension. 

Can you tell us a little bit about what you did in terms of studying and/or work after finishing school?

After school and finishing my A-levels, I took a gap year to Cuba, Mexico City, the USA and Canada for 2 months. I then did a BA(Hons) in Anthropology and History in Lampeter - where I continued to have one-to-one support. This was followed by an MA in Contemporary History at Sussex, where my Disabled Student Allowance (DSA) continued however without the one-to-one support. I received a First Class BA(Hons) and a distinction at MA. The Altformat story therefore contributed to my journey into the discipline, and to my hopes today that one day I can contribute to that field by recording people's lived experiences of history.

In-between times (while doing my A-levels, in my gap year and in long-term time), until last September, I worked for Brighton and Hove Libraries. After my MA, I became a training and volunteer co-ordinator for a year, however unfortunately a staff restructure meant I recently lost that role.

And what are you doing now?

I am now doing a fill-in job in a call centre while i look to apply for a PhD, hopefully in Manchester.

I am secretary of the Constituency Labour Party (CLP), chair of my local branch and have been secretary for the body that co-ordinates the selection of local government candidates. I have put myself forward for Chair of the CLP, the AGM of which is later in November.

Is there anything else that you would like to add?

I am aware that it gave a boost to my parents with regards to supporting me with issues of self-esteem and through my GCSEs, and to my school too.

My mother also taught study skills, and seeing this software introduced it to her so that she could expand her teaching techniques.

#Dyslexia #StoryCompetition #Writing #Accessibility #a11y

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