Michael is pictured here with his tutor, Ros Taylor, receiving a Regional Student Award.  His story is about triumphing over adversity with a strength of will and determination.  These are his own words:

"I used to enjoy school but I was easily distracted and got into trouble often, eventually I left school early with no GCSE’s. However when leaving school I landed myself a job working for a racing car garage which carried out restoration on old Porsche 911s. I got to travel around to different race tracks in the UK and abroad working in the pit lanes and looking after the cars and their drivers. A few years after that I passed a diagnostic test at Emtec College and studied for my NVQ Level 3 in Motor Mechanics, then later went on to get my MOT Testers licence.

Unfortunately over time I developed a long standing history of alcohol abuse, but I was an alcoholic of the “functioning” variety for many years until eventually it became a major problem for me. After losing yet another job and my driving licence for the second time, things took a turn for the worst and I hit a rock bottom, that’s when I started to ask for help with my problem. I done an alcohol detox in hospital 3 times but they were unsuccessful.

Then eventually I detoxed for the fourth time and got a place in a residential treatment centre in Bournemouth, with the full support of my partner and my family. I spent six months in rehabilitation altogether, where I learnt new life skills and a 12 step program. Upon leaving treatment and coming back to Leicester, I was unsure about my future career path as I now struggle with chronic pain and fatigue. This may be neuropathy (nerve damage) from years of abuse and I am now attending pain management for this. I am also getting continued Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to help with social anxiety issues.

Because of these problems, working in a garage would now be too physically demanding, and there’s no answer to how long my symptoms will persist. However, I decided that there is nothing stopping me from learning new skills, getting more education and to better myself even further. I started attending the WEA in early 2013 to do IT Level 2. Then I enquired about doing a HNC/HND in mechanical engineering at Leicester College, to achieve a more long term qualification at a higher level.

But that’s when I realised I had no previous GCSEs for maths and English; these are preferred for access to this course. So I then started the Level 2 Maths and English courses at the WEA as well as the IT course. I found it a little difficult at first with doing 3 courses at once, but it was a great learning curve for me. I have now finished these courses and awaiting the results (fingers crossed!). During my time here at the WEA I have enjoyed the well structured lessons and friendly atmosphere, it is a lovely learning environment. I have met new friends; it has helped me with anxieties working in groups and has been an all round uplifting learning experience that I’d recommend to anyone!

My long term goals would be to finish my HND Engineering, and go for a job in the automotive sector, designing and testing vehicle components that are more economic than we have now; with the use of CAD and my knowledge of the industry in general. With the help of the WEA, more doors have been opened for me and these goals seem more possible.

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