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Crown Buildings, Bancyfelin, Carmarthen, SA33 5ND,
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+44 (0) 1267 211345


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Andy Cope

Andy Cope is the author of the famous Spy Dog books, a trainer and keynote speaker. He is an expert in positive psychology and happiness, which led him to develop The Art of Being Brilliant. This is delivered in various forms as workshops for businesses, conferences, teachers and teenagers. It has also informed the thinking behind his brilliant books.

Click here to listen in on Andy’s podcast with Pivotal Education - ‘Being Brilliant!’.

Connect with Andy


Publications by Andy Cope

The Art of Being a Brilliant Teacher

Teaching is an art; with the right techniques, guidance, skills…

The Art of Being a Brilliant NQT

Everything a NQT always wanted to know about starting their…

The Art of Being a Brilliant Middle Leader

The Art of Being a Brilliant Middle Leader by Gary…

The Art of Being A Brilliant Primary Teacher

On a good day, being a primary school teacher is…

The Art of Being a Brilliant Classroom Assistant

The Art of Being a Brilliant Classroom Assistant is a…

Author Blog

Suicide is painless

April 05 2017

“Suicide is painless. It brings on many changes.”

This just in, from our man in Belfast...

Deep breath. Here we go.

The first 14 years of my life were ‘normal’. I had a good upbringing. I had it a lot easier that a lot of children had then and have now - I had a roof over my head, food, clean clothes and a cosy bed. I did all the things that a normal (I use that word loosely) child would do, I got up to mischief, I hung out with friends and played football.

I am not telling you this to boast or brag, I am telling you this because I want you to know that at any time the course of anyone’s path in life can change for better or for worse.

The course of my life took an unfortunate turn for the worse at the age of 14. This is when I had my first ever panic attack - I can still remember it clear to this day. I was in school in the PE hall sitting a test and I had an overwhelming anxiety dump and started to hyperventilate very quickly.

From then on, I had anything between eight and 10 panic attacks a day and with the night time ones being worse I found it very hard to sleep.

Things got progressively worse over the coming months with panic attacks coming thick and fast, each one more intense and long lasting. This is when I started to drink (alcohol) and I quickly realised that with drink I could sleep a lot quicker. It was just at weekends or whenever I could gather up some money or find someone to get it for me. By the age of 16 I had left school to work, and with that I had access to money and had started to drink every day.

Over the next two years I fell deeper and deeper into depression. Where I live, I had the mountains on one side and the sea on the other, what should have been natural beauty was suffocating to me, my world was closing in around me and all I could see, hear and feel was the darkness, cold chills, and death around me. My depression went from grey to pitch black and I noticed an epidemic of suicides around me. Suddenly death made perfect sense. It was all I had left so I had my first botched attempt. I came around in hospital the following day, the ultimate failure. I couldn’t even kill myself properly!

The conversation I had with a so-called ‘professional’ was disturbing to say the least. Firstly, they had two other people to see for the same reason as me that day. And secondly, I was told there was nothing they could do for my problems. I was a lost cause - beyond saving.

I planned my second attempt, this time more carefully. I timed it to coincide with a big family night out so I’d have the opportunity to say goodbye to everyone. Luckily my brother found me this time.

What followed was two years of therapy. Year one was a struggle to stay alive and year two was spent building my coping mechanisms to deal with the world as it is (not the world I needed it to be) Cut to today. I’m more than steady. Textbooks call it ‘adversarial growth’. I call it living proof that you can experience adversity and come out the other side better and stronger. I concluded that I must have experienced all that for a reason - I must be the one that has come through this to help others, why else would I still be alive?

So I quit my factory job and threw myself headlong into personal development. I took suicide prevention courses, as well as counselling and NLP. While studying to be a practitioner I came across the Art of Brilliance team and took the opportunity of sitting in on their school workshops. Just one word – WOWZA! I attended day one, intending to sit at the back and observe but within 10 minutes I was getting involved! Everything fell into place. Delivering positive psychology and wellbeing to adults is all well and good, but delivering for kids is where it’s at – for me at least. If I can save one child from the horrors that I’ve been through, that’ll do for me.

So here I am. My name is Paddy (the team calls me ‘Wee Paddy’) and I’m from Belfast. My journey has only just begun with the Art of Brill team but I’m trained up, revved up and looking forward to helping change lives from the ground up.

If you want your school or workplace to be rocking and rolling, I’m your man.

Wee P x

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Happiness and rocket-science

March 15 2017

“I will never, ever, ever, ever do a PhD! Ever!”

There, I’ve said it, and it’s in writing on the internet. Four ‘evers’. You can’t get more ‘forever’ than that.

Now, those of you who are full blooded positivity geeks, will instinctively know that this IS NOT the behaviour we’d normally expect. Isn’t my defiant attitude a bit defeatist?

Well, I can state it for two reasons:

  1. Andy C has already done a PhD and it acts as the foundation of all that we do. It took him 12 years and, somewhat ironically, his PhD in Happiness ended up making him unhappy.

  2. Plus, I’ve recently completed a two-year MSc in Positive Psychology. I like to think of it as ‘PhD-lite’? It gave me a good grounding in academia and challenged me but without ruining my life.

At ‘Art of Brill’ we do get that academia is a good thing. We firmly believe that it gives our keynotes and workshops a degree of credibility. Our workshops on positivity, happiness, strengths, purpose and resilience are not based on a whim, they’re backed by a dozen years of research. But we do have a gripe when academia becomes big words for the sake of big words. The boffins have become very clever at disguising their findings in a special language that’s impenetrable to me and thee.

Two examples. First, Andy was asked to reword his simple academic finding that happy people ‘choose to be positive’, to the more heavyweight ‘conscious affirmative affective bias’. He declined.

Example two. Last week I got chatting to a lovely lady about Random Acts of Kindness (RAKs). She passionately shared stories with me of how she actively goes through her week, looking for opportunities to do them, and has done for the past year. She was properly excited, you could see it in her eyes.

I asked her,* “How often do you do them?”*

She replied, “Oh, I have no idea. I just do them when I see them... there’s no formula to it.”

This immediately sent me back to a few weeks of my MSc life, when, guess what, I had to write a critical paper on ‘Random Acts of Kindness’. Yes, I had to critique research into RAKs!

I remember reading two papers which were having an academic ding-dong about the best way to carry out RAKs. One paper claimed that doing one a day for five days led to optimal well-being, whereas the other paper challenged it, by claiming it was best to save five up and do them in one day.

I did what academia requires, and submitted a 3,000 word assignment while all the time thinking, who cares? People just need to actively do them and enjoy the benefit from it.

I guess this is why our sessions, while grounded in academia, resonate with people. We just share what we have learnt, in a simple way, and it’s down to the individual to give it a go and see what works for them.

The good news is that we won’t be asking you to indulge in conscious affirmative affective bias, but we might suggest some techniques that will improve your odds of choosing to be positive. We can share a few decent ideas and then, just like the lady who is doing RAKs, you can crack on with experimenting what works best for you.

If it works, keep doing it. If it doesn’t, try something else.

Now that’s clever!

Darrell x

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