A dyslexic firefighter has called on others with the diagnosis to not let it hold them back – and instead follow in his footsteps.
Firefighter George Stockle has been with Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) for nearly three years after joining during the pandemic.
The 29-year-old is based out of Byker Community Fire Station and helps communities across Newcastle stay safe.
His journey has not always been easy after struggling to overcome challenges related to his dyslexia and find a career he could be proud of.
At times he says he felt embarrassed about disclosing his struggles through fear of being called stupid.
But, George has praised TWFRS for the support they showed him to achieve his dream of becoming a firefighter.
He says that without their support, he wouldn’t have been successful, and has now called on others with a neuro-diverse diagnosis to apply.
George said “I’ve always wanted more for myself, I thought it was money that I wanted but actually it was to help people and potentially save people’s lives.
“I didn’t want people to think I was stupid because of my dyslexia, but it just means my brain thinks a bit differently.
“When I’m on station because I think differently it means I tackle problems in different ways which helps my watch because we aren’t the same.
“The apprenticeship was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, it’s a lot of information presented to you but I knew it was worth it.
“And because I told HR from the beginning, I was able to have adjustments that suited my needs and felt supported throughout the whole apprenticeship not just the course.”
George had been diagnosed with dyslexia and motor processing issues while he was still in school but had never asked for additional support.
Upon leaving school, George tried university but found the environment difficult, leaving his course to work with his dad on a building site.
He qualified as a personal trainer and spent years working in manual jobs – before finding he still wasn’t being stimulated.
George decided to give university another go but this time sought support for his dyslexia – and that was the key to unlocking his potential.
He excelled in his Business degree and achieved the highest award in his class when he was named on the Vice Chancellor’s list.
George left university in 2018 and got a job working as a Business Development manager – but he soon found high amounts of travelling and desk work didn’t suit him.
That is when he saw TWFRS were recruiting – a chance to provide George with the perfect combination of physical work and problem solving.
George made sure to tell instructors he was dyslexic from the very beginning and that allowed the Service to create an environment in which he could excel, achieving a distinction in his apprenticeship.
Today (Thursday) one of TWFRS’s senior firefighters is thanking George for his honesty and openness about his dyslexia and encouraging others to do the same.
Assistant Chief Fire Officer Lynsey McVay said “It’s so powerful to see George be so vulnerable about his dyslexia and use this platform to encourage those who might believe they can’t be firefighter because of that that actually they can.
“We want to support you every step of the way through your career with TWFRS and want you to thrive in your role, so telling us you need help shouldn’t be seen as a weakness as it’s a strength.
“We need people who think differently to come and be firefighters, everyone can contribute so much and a chance to tackle a problem differently creates a better more effective working environment.
“It can be scary sharing something so personal with people right at the beginning of your journey but it can definitely help you in the future.”
TWFRS have a dedicated staff network to neurodiversity who have been working to make the Service as inclusive as possible and providing support to those who need it.
TWFRS are currently recruiting for whole-time firefighters on their website and are encouraging people to apply.
They want applicants from all walks of life and are encouraging anyone with compassion, empathy and adaptability to consider an application.
You have until 31st January at 23:59pm to get your application in via their website.