Mum-of-two secures award for learning after overcoming bullying and flooding

A Coleg Llandrillo student, who "didn't attend school much" because of bullying has been recognised for her dedication after returning to studying.

Bethan Humphreys, 40, who has been studying at Coleg Llandrillo for several years, was bullied at school for being overweight. She grew a dislike for school and left without a GCSE in Maths.

After struggling with depression and anxiety since she was 16 years old, Bethan decided to return to education as an adult. She took classes in Maths and English and gained her entry three qualifications, and then secured her Essential Skills for Work and Life Certificate.

Bethan is now undertaking an NVQ to become a classroom assistant and her commitment to learning has earned her an award in the Essential Skills for Life category at the national Inspire! Awards.

Bethan is one of 13 winners to be recognised at the 2022 Inspire! Awards. Co-ordinated by the Learning and Work Institute with support from the Welsh Government.

The Inspire! Awards recognise those who have demonstrated a commitment to never stop learning. Each Inspire! winner demonstrates how learning can offer second chances, build confidence and help communities to become vibrant and successful.

In addition to being bullied, Bethan has faced other challenges in her life; her daughter was born with a hyperplastic thumb and in 2020, her home was flooded. She also experienced a severe anxiety attack and took three-months off work but she was determined to stay on track with her studies.

Bethan said: “My daughter had to have her thumb amputated when she was two and then had further surgery when she was six.

“[With the flooding] we woke up to discover two feet of water in the house. My husband managed to save my coursework and my tutor, Sharon, dried and ironed it. I was desperate to save my college work.

"We moved to a hotel for a few nights and then moved into a house for another six months.

“My husband helped with the homes-chooling when Covid hit as he was out of work for a while after lockdown was announced," Bethan added.

"He’s always been really supportive. I managed to fit the studying in around the children. I’d get my books out after they’d gone to bed but we’d also all sit down at the kitchen table – my daughter with her homework, me and my son with our college work.

"Parts of it have been difficult but my tutor has been amazing and explains things really well.

“When I was in high school, I was in the lower set and didn’t feel I could ever be good at maths, but with Sharon’s support and encouragement I have been able to build my confidence. I’m now aiming to do a Maths GCSE.”

Sharon Shaw, Skills for Life Lecturer at Coleg Llandrillo, nominated Bethan. She said,

"Bethan’s dream is to become a teaching assistant. Her drive and enthusiasm for her college work is remarkable. I can see that she works hard in the evenings when she has put her daughter to bed and she regularly asks for extra work. I’m thrilled that she has been honoured by this Inspire Award; she deserves it.”

Martin Walker, Programme Area Manager for Adult Community Learning, added,

“We are all extremely proud of Bethan and her fantastic achievements. She works extremely hard and this award is testament to that. We look forward to continuing to support Bethan in her studies and can’t wait to see what else she achieves!”

Jeremy Miles, Minister for Education and Welsh Language, said,

“Congratulations to the Inspire! Award winners and nominees. Each and every one has demonstrated incredible commitment to learning and overcoming significant personal challenges to get to where they are today. The Inspire! Awards remind us that it’s never too late to learn something new, and that learning can pave the way for second chances – to start a new journey, to gain recognised qualifications, or to discover a new passion. The dedication of our ‘Inspire!’ Award winners to never stop learning sets an example for us all, and their stories deserve to be shared and celebrated.”

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