WORCESTERSHIRE’S Dillon Pennington is known for being one of the country’s brightest young fast bowling prospects, but few are aware that throughout his entire life he has lived with one of the most common learning difficulties found in the UK – dyslexia.
According to the NHS website, dyslexia is a lifelong problem that causes problems for certain abilities used for learning, including reading and writing, but it does not affect overall intelligence.
It is estimated that up to one in 10 people in the UK have some degree of dyslexia, presenting challenges on a daily basis including slow reading and writing, confusing the order of letters in words and struggling with planning and organisation.
Worcestershire and former England U19 man Pennington, 22, first realised he had the condition in primary school, and has since learned to live with dyslexia with support from family, friends and educational support staff.
During Learning Disability Week 2021, an annual event organised by the charity Mencap to raise awareness and knowledge around learning disabilities, Pennington spoke about his early experiences with dyslexia and how he has coped with the condition ever since.
“I remember having an issue with spelling in primary school and the first half of secondary school. I had to spend a lot of extra time doing spelling and writing practice, and just going through little things like that.
“There’s loads of different types of dyslexia. In my case, it’s just all about muddling things up in your brain when you’re writing something. I’m always thinking two sentences ahead when writing that first sentence.
“By secondary school, my spelling was getting better, just through repetition and practice. I would go through my work and look through what I had done, and then for the next piece of work I would be in better shape.”
Having signed his first professional contract with Worcestershire in 2018, the fast bowler has faced the dual challenge of living with dyslexia and balancing his commitments as a full-time athlete whilst completing his studies.
“With dyslexia comes a lot of time management problems, so I had extra support at university to make sure I was doing everything on time.
“It was good fun though – I loved it. It was a challenge juggling my studies with training and having to rush through assignments. When you’re rushing assignments with dyslexia, that’s just a recipe for disaster.”
Pennington is proud of what he has achieved in spite of the challenges posed by his dyslexia, and is grateful to those who have supported him along the way.
“Dyslexia is part of me – as I have matured I have learnt to use strategies to manage it. It was summed up to me when I received a final draft of my dissertation back: “Dillon, remember capitals and full stops, I am not going to remind you again!
“I’m not sure that at infant and junior level that it was felt that I would be able to succeed academically, so I think that persevering and working out ways to combat and manage your dyslexia is the way forward to succeed.”