Inspirational teachers and students

A MOTHER whose son was killed crossing the road and a teenage chronic fatigue syndrome sufferer who moved to Essex for a fresh start have reached the final of a countywide competition for inspirational teachers and students.

A MOTHER whose son was killed crossing the road and a teenage chronic fatigue syndrome sufferer who moved to Essex for a fresh start have reached the final of a countywide competition for inspirational teachers and students.

Corinne Sharpe, 41, from Chelmsford, channelled her grief at losing 10-year-old Glenn, who died of severe head injuries after being knocked off his mini-scooter by a car in Galleywood in July 2001, into developing career opportunities for hair and beauty students at Harlow College where she works.

Her efforts prompted students, who described her as a "very caring person" to support her nomination as a Learner's Champion in this year's Learning and Skills Council's Champion of Learning competition for Essex.

Mrs Sharpe said: "I will never get over the loss of my son. Coming into work doesn't make the sadness go away, but it has helped focus my energies and thoughts to develop and promote new learning and career potential for the best industry in the world."


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Joining Mrs Sharpe at the finals in Chelmsford on June 5 will be Colchester student Emily Burns, 19, who today is sitting the last of her exams which she hopes will secure her conditional place to read natural sciences at Cambridge University in October.

Miss Burns, a student at the Colchester Sixth Form College, was diagnosed with Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) or chronic fatigue syndrome a week before her GCSE exams and spent a number of years caring for her unwell father after her mother left home when she was just 13.

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She moved to Colchester from Lincolnshire in 2000 for a fresh start and has never looked back.

She said: "I'll be quite happy living here for the rest of my life – I love it. My dad is still in Lincolnshire, but he's much better now and he's proud of what I'm doing.

"It's been a struggle supporting myself financially but my aunt and uncle have been brilliant helping me out.

"I feel the tough road to university has given me an understanding of other people's problems and a conviction that I will make every effort in my life to support and encourage others to fulfil their goals no matter what."

"I've always been interested in cancer research and I have real determination to help find a cure."

There are eight separate categories this year's awards for people who have improved their lives or the lives of others through learning.

Others nominated for the finals include soldier Matthew Doyle, 23, currently detained at the Military Correction Training Centre in Colchester who said he wanted to put his troubled past behind him to help less fortunate people around the world. Nominated in the adult learning category, he is now training as a plumber and hopes to work voluntarily overseas when he is released next month.

Voluntary worker Paul Pallent, 40, of Harpers Estate, Nayland, who battled severe back injury and depression with "real patience and understanding" to become an invaluable member of the IT staff at Colchester Institute.

Sisters Gill and Bethan Oliver who run the Essex Care Consortium in Maldon Road, Birch, which provides residential and day services to adults with learning disabilities in Colchester. Nominated in workplace Learning category.

Clacton man Leonard Sibbald, 54, who left school with no qualifications and is about to begin a new career as the oldest newly qualified teacher in the country. He made it through to the final in the Golden Learner category after studying eight years during spare time from his full-time job for an Open University degree.

Garage owner Trevor Bougourd, from Kirby Cross, 50, who helped transform the lives of his staff by working with Colchester Institute. He helped his staff gain basic skills training, and converted an attic room at his own expense into a teaching room.

Georgina Underwood, 17, from Writtle, is a finalist in the Voluntary Worker Champion category after working with a Christian charity Interact, to help young adults with learning disabilities integrate into a wider society.

Hylands School teaching assistant Pat Doran, 54, from Chelmsford, who helped young pupils with cerebral palsy and dyspraxia make it into the sixth form. Her nominator for the Learner's Champion category described how Pat's dedication went so far as to perfecting her rucking and tackling technique to help the boys with their rugby.

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