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A Dyslexic's Story by Jackie Stewart - Formula One World Champion

My youth was based in the unhappiness of my inabilities at school, and unquestionably they were the unhappiest days of my life.

I went to Dumbarton Academy which was fee paying at first, then it became a grammar school. Very over classed. I mean forty-five pupils per class in each subject. I went there I suppose from the age of eight or nine. I was held back a year to try and pass my eleven-plus because then I was a disaster, in almost everything outside of sport.

I think I had a real problem of reading aloud, and I had problems spelling and I always had trouble with comprehension. That's to say, comprehending everything - the spoken word and the written word.

The blackboard was the same. Nothing could I absorb. I mean I was like the eternal plastic sponge.

in the eleven-plus I got a C which meant that I couldn't stay at the Dumbarton Academy and had to go to Hartfield School which was very much looked upon as the poor school. My friends of course were all much cleverer. They teased me. I was ridiculed because of my (a) stupidity, (b) thick, stupid and dumb attitudes. But I had very little self-esteem as far as school was concerned.

I was always wanting to be an achiever. I always dreamt of success. I left school at fifteen at the earliest possible minute without any qualifications and worked in my father's garage. I felt the unhappiness, frustration and the pain of being identified as not being able to do anything in those days. I covered it well, with a personality that made people think I rushed around and did this and did that.

I never had any great friendships at school. I have always been very much a loner in almost everything.

Jackie Stewart


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