Glamorgan Gazette - - Front Page - AB­BIE WIGHTWICK ab­bie.wightwick@waleson­

A YOUNG carer with hear­ing loss has ful­filled her life­long dream of get­ting a place at med­i­cal school.

Claire Wil­iams, 19, is the first in her im­me­di­ate fam­ily to go to univer­sity after get­ting three A grades in her A-lev­els.

Claire, from Brid­gend, cred­ited her brother Matthew, who has Down’s syn­drome and is on the autis­tic spec­trum, with in­flu­enc­ing her ca­reer de­ci­sion.

She is off to Le­ices­ter Univer­sity to read medi- cine after achiev­ing A* in chem­istry, A* in bi­ol­ogy and A in maths.

The teenager, who went to Ys­gol Bryn­teg be­fore get­ting a schol­ar­ship to go to fee-pay­ing Cardiff Sixth Form Col­lege for A-lev­els, helps care for Matthew, 17.

She re-sat her first year of A-lev­els and, against the odds, got three of­fers to study medicine at King’s Col­lege, Lon­don, Ex­eter and Le­ices­ter.

Claire, who will now be go­ing to her first choice Le­ices­ter, said she has ex­pe­ri­enced first-hand the ben­e­fits of the NHS, at­tend­ing hospi­tal ap­point­ments with her brother and be­ing ac­tively in­volved in car­ing for him.

“My brother is very in­de­pen­dent and at­tends Herons­bridge Spe­cial School in Brid­gend and we have a very spe­cial bond and of­ten use sign-lan­guage to com­mu­ni­cate. He has di­rectly in­flu­enced my de­ci­sion to study medi- cine,” she said.

Claire has con­duc­tive hear­ing loss her­self, hav­ing suf­fered with glue ear as a child.

This even­tu­ally led to a bone be­ing eroded in her ear and she now wears a hear­ing aid per­ma­nently, which she said she found very dif­fi­cult to deal with at the be­gin­ning of her stud­ies.

“It has been a life­long am­bi­tion of mine to be­come a doctor and help peo­ple who have un­der- gone trauma in their lives,” she said.

“As well as look­ing after my brother, I have worked as a health­care as­sis­tant at Hafod in Brid­gend, where I learnt a lot about man­ual han­dling skills and have seen first-hand how much we need good health­care pro­fes­sion­als here in Wales.

“I was also in­volved with a fan­tas­tic work place­ment scheme or­gan­ised by my school, Cardiff Sixth Form Col­lege, in Malaysia for two weeks last sum­mer, where I was for­tu­nate to see sur­gi­cal oper­a­tions in­clud­ing an ear op­er­a­tion in quite dif­fi­cult con­di­tions.

“Dur­ing work ex­pe­ri­ence at Cardiff Spire Hospi­tal I saw a va­sec­tomy on the first day as well as a hys­terec­tomy and both hip and shoul­der re­place­ments. The adrenalin rush was in­cred­i­ble and has made me re­ally de­ter­mined to suc­ceed.

“I am un­der no il­lu­sions how hard the seven-year train­ing will be, es­pe­cially as I am in­ter­ested in spe­cial­is­ing in plas­tic surgery and re­con­struc­tion.”

Cardiff Sixth Form prin­ci­pal Gareth Col­lier said: “We are enor­mously proud of Claire, who has shown real re­silience and ded­i­ca­tion – she is a real role model.

“We need young peo­ple like Claire to come back to Wales and give the NHS the valu­able sup­port it needs.”

Claire Wil­liams with her brother Matthew

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