Suffolk locals share words of wisdom ahead of GCSE and A Level results day
- Credit: Declan Yeomans-Hill/ Sandy Armitage/ Stephen Yates/ Rachel Davy/ Simon Glenister/ Katherine Mager
From working with Iron Maiden to award-winning designers, Suffolk successes share their journeys after struggling at GCSE and A Level.
Rachel Davy, 24 from Stowmarket – Conceptual artist and sculptor
“School for me was terrifying. I knew I was poorly from about the age of 12 or 13. I suffer from paranoid schizophrenia and I’ve been hospitalised many times.
“No one really asks me how many GCSEs I got. I’ve got a first class degree with honours in my subject of choice which is fine art. I love what I do! I’m an artist – I get to play around with materials all day.
“Don’t worry if you don’t get it this year. There’s always time. You could get your GCSEs in five years' time and still do amazing things with your life.”
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Sandy Armitage, 58 from Ipswich – Interior architectural designer
“I found secondary school to be a very awkward environment, which had a lot to do with tensions in my home life. My mum was going through a breakdown and I was unable to concentrate. I got one GCE in English which was an E.
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“Now I help people realise the best they can make of their own homes. I'm also a recent finalist in the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom design awards.”
Declan Yeomans-Hill, 54 from Needham Market – English teacher
“I was the only one in the class, as my English teacher told me, to fail English Literature O Level.
"I’ve now recently passed my PGCE and I’ll be teaching 11-16 year-olds. One of my motivations as a teacher is that on my watch, nobody in my class gets left behind.
“If you’ve done well, fantastic that will open doors for you. If you haven’t got the results you wanted, you’re still alive. You still have loads of opportunities open to you."
Simon Glenister, 48 from Bury St Edmunds – Drummer and CEO of Noise Solution
“The last year of school I wasn’t there very much. I went in to a tail spin of non-engagement and feeling further left behind. I got lost in the system and no one was picking that up. I got a C in art and failed everything else, including music.
"Since then, I’ve had four record deals, played all the major festivals and travelled around the world. I also set up Noise Solution which is now one of the UK’s top 100 performing social enterprises.
"Through Noise Solution I was offered the opportunity to do a two-year research master's degree at Cambridge University.
"I could have got mediocre GCSEs and ended up in an office somewhere. I would never change what happened to me."
Alex Meadows, 29 from Woodbridge – owner of Woodbridge Classic Cars
"I was a pretty good student up until A-Level when it went pear-shaped for me. My A-Level results left a fair bit to be desired."
"The business that I’m in now was my father’s business which was passed onto me when he died. I was a 20-year-old lad thrust into the forefront all of a sudden, but it did give me a direction.
"My father had been ill for a lot longer than we’d realised and we rescued the business from a fairly substantial amount of debt.
"Life is long and rich. It’s more about gaining experience. The qualifications open doors, but get out there and get stuck into life.”
Amy Wragg, 39 from Ipswich – Chartered manager apprentice
“I went to college and started to take three A Levels when about three months before I was due to sit my exams, my mum died very suddenly of deep vein thrombosis.
"A healthy, non-smoking woman went in to hospital one night and died when I was 18. Unsurprisingly I didn’t do very well.
"I’m now a Chartered Manager Apprentice at Emmaus Suffolk, a homelessness charity in Ipswich. I changed career due to the pandemic, but prior to that I was working in events. I had been looking after some of the biggest, most famous artists in the world, one being Iron Maiden.”
A Level results day will be taking place on August 10 with GCSE results day two days later on August 12.