Investment banker turned advocate for children with learning difficulties is awarded an OBE

Forbes-Nixon is improving educational and future career opportunities for neurodiverse children

David Forbes-Nixon, an advocate for better learning and future employment opportunities for children with learning difficulties, has been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Forbes-Nixon’s story

Forbes-Nixon is the co-founder of Stepping Stones School for children with special educational needs and is the founder of DFN Foundation and DFN Project SEARCH, which help those with learning disabilities, including autism, secure long-term employment.

His inspiration to set up the DFN Charitable Foundation and DFN Project SEARCH came from his disabled son Charlie. He bought Undershaw, the country house of famed Sherlock Holmes writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and converted it into the Stepping Stones School in 2014.

In 2018, he obtained the Master Franchise Agreement for Project SEARCH for the UK, which works with companies to provide long-term jobs for young adults with learning disabilities and autism.

He recently stepped down as Chairman and CEO of Bank of New York Mellon’s Alcentra Group, one of London’s leading asset managers. He now spends two days a week as a Senior Advisor while he dedicates the rest of his time to the DFN Charitable Foundation and DFN Project SEARCH.

Commenting on the accolade, he said: “I am honoured to receive this award, but it is on behalf of everyone involved at Stepping Stones School, the DFN Charitable Foundation, and DFN Project SEARCH. We have only been able to achieve so much because of their efforts, and this award is for them as much as me.

“It is hugely difficult for people with learning disabilities to get the education they need to prepare them to find long term, meaningful employment, with only 5.6% in full-time jobs. I will continue to work with my colleagues at DFN Project SEARCH to do everything we can to significantly improve this outcome”.
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