Tigger - it's all in the name!

“People warned me that no one would take me seriously if I changed my name, but it’s been awesome. Far from damaging my career it’s helped. It’s memorable and people often question it. It’s a great way to be introduced.”

Named after the A.A.Milne character, renowned for his boisterous and exuberant ways, Tigger is a people person bursting with energy whose main business is to improve the way that people communicate with one another.

Tigger changed his name 19 years ago while he was working as a Duke of Edinburgh leader in Cornwall. “I was handed a Winnie the Pooh mascot. The kids told me that I was more like Tigger and the name stuck. PR wise it’s been the best thing I've done.”

Tigger during a visit to Green Light.

Having started out as a support worker for people with a learning disability, Tigger was encouraged to learn sign language and is now celebrating 25 years as a Makaton tutor in the South West: “I’m extremely proud, I must have taught thousands of people across the region. I feel lucky to be part of their training,” he said.

Keen to develop people’s skills further Tigger became a lecturer for adults with a learning disability and helped to design the Access to Skills and Development (ASD) course which is still running in the county to this day. Leaving the classroom to follow a new career as a consultant ASD trainer, Tigger has worked with many organisations, including special schools in Cornwall, training organisations and service providers in the South West. His latest collaboration with Green Light, which provides services for people with autism, is aimed at developing the company’s communication approaches by working closely with support staff, individuals and parents. “I’m seeing this as a new opportunity to develop my role. I will also be on shift for part of my time helping me to understand the way in which people are working and communicating. You can’t develop resources unless you have experienced the environment and interactions on a day to day basis.”

Jo Pyrah, Green Light’s co-founder, welcomed Tigger, saying: “We’re delighted Tigger has joined us.  His role puts him right at the centre of what we do, where he can observe and empower less experienced team members and share his skills and experience.  His passion for understanding and helping others is highly contagious.  This helps nurture positive perceptions about the people we support and an atmosphere of learning.  He’s a trainer that practices what he preaches.”  

Tigger with Lecturer Dr. Jill Bradshaw

Tigger recently attended Person Centred Active Support Training for Trainers at the University of Kent Learning Disability Research Centre; The Tizard Centre. The training focuses on ensuring support and interactions are organised to achieve important life goals and that overall quality of life for people with learning disabilities is enhanced.  

Last year Tigger travelled to Nepal helping victims of the devastating earthquake that left thousands homeless. He was invited to volunteer at a school in Kathmandu for children with autism by a former Green Light support worker, Catherine Eastman, who has been working in the school.

Tigger says Nepal’s attitudes to autism and learning disabilities are based on long-held cultural beliefs and a lack of education: “I've worked in specialist schools in the UK and was keen to help Catherine develop the training in Nepal. It was great to be able to reassure parents and tell them that their children are not possessed by evil spirits and that they have so much to offer and should not be shunned because they have autism.

Children playing in Kathmandu.

“One approach they have developed is the use of social media to help them to understand autism and how to support people. The country as a whole is making tremendous strides in altering perceptions and in developing very up-to-date resources and training, There is still much work to be done.

“They have very reduced resources but are achieving good outcomes. Several areas were destroyed in the earthquake, there was no mains gas, electric or water. They are rebuilding everything but it’s slow progress. Many will be living in shelters for a long time. I hope to return and continue my training Kathmandu, it’s a beautiful country.”

For further information on Green Light go to the website  and to read more on Nepal please see Catherine's Blog on Facebook.


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