In 2008 Qona Rankin, the Dyslexia Co-ordinator at the Royal College of Art was approached about setting up a charity to help people with dyslexia. After a great deal of research, discussion and planning she contacted Bart Peerless, a solicitor with the City firm of Charles Russell LLP, (who acts for many charities and is a trustee of several, with a focus on education and music,) about the practicalities of setting up a charity.
Qona then began talking to colleagues about refining the idea and Alan Cummings Pro-Rector of the Royal College of Art and their Diversity Champion, expressed his interest in the project and said he would like to support the idea. Qona, Bart and Alan are the three trustees of the Creative Mentors Foundation.
Read more about Qona Rankin
Qona Rankin is the Dyslexia Co-ordinator at the Royal College of Art, and has been since 2002 when the post was created. She has degrees in Three Dimensional Design from Kingston University and in Design Education from the RCA. Before retraining in Adult Dyslexia Support at Southbank University in 1997, she was a Senior Lecturer on the Product Design Degree course at the University of Hertfordshire and a freelance jewellery designer-maker. The idea behind Creative Mentors came when 4 thoughts collided simultaneously:
- The way that many dyslexic and dyspraxic people think seems to give them creative advantages
- Unless you teach creative subjects in ways that make sense to dyslexic and dyspraxic children, you may well deny them access to the material
- Dyslexic and dyspraxic people seem to be rather good at teaching people who learn a bit differently
- 40% of prisoners are dyslexic. Many of them are highly creative.
“If we can do something to help individuals who find learning through conventional teaching methods unrewarding and so enable them to lead fulfilling productive lives rather than perhaps ending up in prison then it, is worth doing.”
Read more about Alan Cummings
Alan Cummings studied Chemistry at Imperial College London and Conservation of Paintings at the Courtauld Institute of Art. He has had an interestingly diverse career, starting in the pharmaceuticals industry, moving on to conservation and restoration of paintings for institutions like the National Portrait Gallery and The National Trust, and ending up as Professor of Conservation and Pro-Rector (Deputy Head) at the Royal College of Art in South Kensington. In this latter role, he had overall responsibility for management of the academic affairs of the RCA and represented the College in major initiatives in art and design education locally, nationally and internationally. Motivated by his experience as a parent, he had a particular interest in developing understanding of dyslexia and support for dyslexic students, who constitute a high proportion of those who study art and design. Following his retirement from the RCA in 2011, Alan was appointed as an Emeritus Professor of the RCA, a Visiting Professor at Imperial College and as a Governor of the National Film and Television School. In parallel with his conservation and academic careers, Alan has been writing and performing music in one way or another since the 1970s. Now fully “retired” he has resumed his musical life enthusiastically and is now a regular performer with his band Little Beach in the folk clubs and music venues around SE London and Kent.
Read more about Bart Peerless
Bart Peerless is a solicitor with the City firm of Charles Russell LLP. He read History at Durham University before qualifying as a solicitor in 1995. He acts for many charities across a broad range of charitable activities – although with a particular focus on education and music – and is a trustee of several of them.
Read more about Andrew Whitby Collins
Andrew has spent much of his working life advising charities, other not-for-profit organisations and philanthropists, first as a solicitor and now as part of a philanthropy and charity consultancy. He was a school governor for eight years and as well as a proud trustee of Creative Mentors Foundation he volunteers for Young Enterprise.