Stu­dents cel­e­brate suc­cess

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - REMEMBER WHEN? - by Mike Ben­nett

SIX of the best Ash­ford ma­ture stu­dents have won hard-earned Open Univer­sity de­grees af­ter years of ded­i­cated study. For each of them it has been a long, of­ten painful jour­ney, as they jug­gled busy life­styles with hours of part-time study. Few could be more de­lighted with their achieve­ments than sin­gle mother Mar­got East­well, from Far­rers Walk, Park Farm. Suf­fer­ing from fi­bromyal­gia, which af­fects her joints and mus­cles, she has brought up 15year-old twin sons Ben, who is a Nor­ton Knatch­bull pupil, and Thomas, who suf­fers from Downs syn­drome and at­tends Wyvern spe­cial school, and Francesca, 18, who is at The Tow­ers, Ken­ning­ton. Be­fore hav­ing chil­dren she worked as a nanny and with spe­cial-needs young­sters. She has now been awarded her BSc de­gree watched by proud par­ents Peter and Mar­garet Pot­ter. She said: “When my chil­dren need less of my time I hope to re­turn to be­come some­thing like a spe­cial care class­room as­sis­tant.” Trainee teacher Lynette Sim­mons, 41, of Lower Vicarage Road, Ken­ning­ton, col­lected a Bach­e­lor of Arts. Work­ing as a teach­ing as­sis­tant, she started her stud­ies when the youngest of her four chil­dren was four months old as she had be­come a lone par­ent dur­ing her last preg­nancy and needed to im­prove her in­come by train­ing as a teacher. She hopes to be qual­i­fied by next Jan­uary. For An­gela Coul­ing, 62, of Hor­nash Lane, Sha­dox­hurst, it was a life­time am­bi­tion to earn a de­gree. She left school in 1960 at 15 with few qual­i­fi­ca­tions as she needed to work to and care for her wid­owed mother with no fi­nan­cial sup­port.

Ap­pre­ci­a­tion

Af­ter work­ing for 37 years she re­tired for health rea­sons in 1997. She said: “I de­cided the time was right to prove to my­self that I was ca­pa­ble of get­ting a de­gree.” Oral care as­ses­sor Theo­dosia Gould­stone, 55, from Pluck­ley, started Open Univer­sity stud­ies when at home with small chil­dren and re­turned to them af­ter a long gap work­ing full-time as a char­ity fund-raiser. Mrs Gould­stone said: “I started in 1990 and fin­ished in 2006. I went back to study­ing when the chil­dren left home and man­aged to fin­ish the de­gree course.” Health and safety in­spec­tor David Fussell, 38, of Evans Road, Willes­bor­ough, has been awarded his Msc in Man­age­ment and Tech­nol­ogy. He said: “At 16 I be­came a butcher for Tesco and af­ter four years was made re­dun­dant and be­came a scaf­folder. “Af­ter four years of hard work in the cold and wet, I went to work for Bri­tish Steel in Llan­wern Steel­works. Bri­tish Steel was happy to spon­sor me but I had to pass and pay for the first two years my­self be­fore be­ing re­im­bursed.” For Ash­ford pri­mary school teacher Karl Bent­ley, 45, it was an op­por­tu­nity to study what and when he wanted. He said: “I left school at 15 to take a craft ap­pren­tice­ship and de­cided to broaden my ed­u­ca­tion first with a Bach­e­lor of Arts and then a Bach­e­lor of Science with hon­ours. “Af­ter be­com­ing a teacher I car­ried on my stud­ies to now gain my Mas­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion de­gree.”

Mar­got East­well with her par­ents Mar­garet and Peter Pot­ter at her grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony

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