WINNING INSPIRATION; Festival of Learning Celebrates the Achievements of Dedicated Individuals and Groups Who Have Turned around Numerous Lives through Adult Education

The Evening Standard (London, England), May 18, 2010 | Go to article overview

WINNING INSPIRATION; Festival of Learning Celebrates the Achievements of Dedicated Individuals and Groups Who Have Turned around Numerous Lives through Adult Education


FROM practising Pilates to gaining a PhD, Adult Learners' Week celebrates learning and learners in all their diversity, inspiring many thousands of people each year to try something new.

Running between last Saturday and this Friday, the campaign promotes the benefits of all kinds of learning, whether for fun or leading to a qualification.

Founded and co-ordinated by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE), this festival of learning acknowledges the achievements of individuals, groups, families and projects through national and regional awards. Mark Beaton and Rita Martins are among those whose dedication and commitment has been recognised as part of this year's Adult Learners' Week.

Mark, 44, from Brixton, has fought his way from the depths of mental and physical illness, homelessness and unemployment to become an excellent student, while also starting his own business as a sports massage therapist.

Even as he struggled to gain new skills and build the confidence he had lacked all his life, Mark was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome which threatened the dexterity he needed for the practical skills to succeed.

Undeterred, on recovery from an operation, he embarked on the City & Guilds Level 3 Diploma in body massage, graduating from Morley College in Lambeth in 2009 with distinctions in both the theory and practical exams and completed his Sports Massage Diploma in the same year. He came off benefits and got advice and training to set up his own business.

He admits that, 30 years after leaving school "as a very troubled youngster", studying was a tough challenge. …

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