A Donor's Story

My introduction with chess started when I was 8 years old, my dad played once a month with a friend who consistently beat him.   I always remember being fascinated by this wooden board with strange looking pieces.  My dad slowly started teaching me which coincided with me being labelled with dyslexia.  This was extremely unnerving for me as I remember being bullied at primary school and also sadly being ridiculed in front of the Head leaving me with a feeling of being inadequate.

Being labelled ‘stupid’ created a bubble for me, a ceiling, of which I was unable to break through.  I convinced myself I could not achieve anything in life and had created my own achievement level.  There was a self-justification when I was not able to achieve a particular task, its ok I said to myself, I can’t do this because of my problem.  It was a self-fulfilling prophecy.

This all changed when I joined the chess club at Honeywell School in south-west London.   I soon found out I was actually quite good at chess which allowed me to break through my ceiling.  Chess showed me I wasn’t stupid, I actually saw a different reality and new possibilities.  I wasn’t conscious of it at the time but looking back I saw how chess made such a positive impact on my life then and still is to this today.

What has been very prominent for me in my property business is the mantra, “check the board”, where I’m always aware of the various options available (exit strategies), and very reflective on decisions that need to be made.  Couple this with the many other benefits of chess such as consequences of actions, sportsmanship, mathematics, pattern recognition and concentration it has been a huge help in my personal and professional life. 

My partnership with Chess in Schools and Communities (CSC) came about a few years ago when I set up a chess club at my daughter’s school.  I could see how much fun the children had and more importantly how good they were.  It was then I came across CSC who supplied the school all chess materials and boards completely free of charge.  They also arranged a competition where a small group of children would be chosen from London to play Kasparov at the House of Lords.  I decided to put forward, Katie, not because she was the best player, but her growth from a timid girl to a confident chess player was enough to merit it.  Amazingly, she was chosen and lasted 45 mins with the great Kasparov, and it was at this point I knew I had to work with CSC to assist them with their mission.  Katie’s experience will stay with her for ever but more importantly so will the skills she has learnt.  This is why I’m so passionate and grateful that my business is working with CSC to expose chess to every primary school in the country.