Students celebrate success
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.
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