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Dyslexic Apprentice winner proves anything is possible

Tom Pollereau
Tom Pollereau Image credit: mancunianmatters.co.uk

Having a disability should never stop you chasing your dream, to become successful and grasp opportunities. No one knows this better than Tom Pellereau, winner of The Apprentice in 2011.

Tom’s fascination with inventing can be traced back to his tender years pulling things apart and figuring out how they worked under the watchful eyes of his Grandad and Mum. Fastening cogs, twisting screws and understanding mechanisms came naturally for Pollereau, but when it came to writing structures his literature skills fell off the hinges.

Struggling through English at primary school Tom’s poor grades were soon compensated when he was diagnosed with dyslexia but his teachers were fully supportive providing the young inventor with extra lessons.

"I remember a new English teacher brought in a class rule that any spelling mistake found in an essay had to be written out correctly 20 times.” Tom admits on his website. “In my first essay I made over 100 mistakes, which made for a lot of extra home work."

This was before the dawn of the Internet. The only way to google a solution was down the local library, but when it came to putting letters in the correct order at least Tom had a home computer.

"Computers with spell check were a life-saver for me. I still remember using the family's first computer, an Amstrad 1512."

Little did he know the brains behind his families PC, a young businessman called Alan Sugar, would help Tom manufacturer and sell his own products in years to come.

Passing a 1st Class Honours degree and a Masters in Mechanical Engineering with Innovation and Design Tom was already on the way to success after he left school. When he left home he didn’t bother buying an oven for his new flat – He invented one instead!

After avoiding Lord Sugar’s dreaded finger Tom is now behind a plethora of inventions including a children’s story App, specialised furniture for musicians which protect their hearing, an extra safe baby feeding device and a home device which can detect the early signs of bowel cancer.

Tom believes his dyslexia was the driving force behind his success and as a new series of The Apprentice arrives in the board room this autumn only time will tell if there will be another candidate this year who has the determination to follow in his footsteps.

The Apprentice is on BBC One, Thursdays at 9pm.