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Lifelong Learning Centre

Learning Champions case study: Ray Whitaker

Ray WhitakerRay left school at 16 without qualifications and joined the Navy, but was medically discharged after six years. He lost his career, his confidence and his direction and for almost 20 years worked a series of low-paid jobs, interspersed with periods of unemployment and struggles with poverty, depression and ill-health.

In 2010 Ray was diagnosed with ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Wishing to regain a sense of purpose he enrolled on a Maths GCSE course with his local college and discovered a real aptitude for the subject, achieving an ‘A’ grade. Ray then decided to book an appointment for Pre-entry information, advice and guidance from the LLC to find out more about his options for further study. He is particularly interested in the environment and nature and was successful in obtaining a place on our Foundation Year in Earth and Environmental Sciences. Ray is now studying for a degree with the School of Earth and Environment at Leeds.

Ray consistently achieves high marks in his studies whilst managing his ME and caring responsibilities. He also finds time to volunteer as a Learning Champion and has made a powerful impression at numerous events aimed at under-represented groups:

I am very proud to be at university and all the time at work, at home and in my area I talk to people I meet about why they should think about going to university. I am very passionate to impart my experience to others and eager to break down the barriers of low self-esteem that I experienced. If I can influence just one person to make a positive change in their life, I will have achieved something.

Ray’s achievements were recognised with a regional Adult Learners’ Award (HEART Raising Aspirations Award) in June 2014.