Pudsey man with learning difficulty who restarted education in his thirties given national award

A Pudsey man with a learning difficulty has been given a national award after restarting his education in his 30s.

Friday, 9th July 2021, 11:45 am

Matthew Turner, who had autism, struggled in education and his early career.

However, determined Matthew said he "wanted the same opportunities as those without a learning difficulty" and vowed to return to education.

Having taken a leap of faith applying for Bradford College, Matthew has progressed in his learning from Level 1 to Level 3 in his travel and tourism course and has not missed a single class in four years.

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Matthew Turner, who had autism, struggled in education and his early career but has made amazing progress.
Matthew Turner, who had autism, struggled in education and his early career but has made amazing progress.

He has passed his assessments with flying colours and taken on many new challenges.

Matthew now volunteers in the college bar and restaurant, as well as in the autism community to support people facing similar challenges.

His mum Allison Turner, speaking to the YEP, said: "It’s not the end of the world if you don’t do well at school, you can achieve amazing things throughout your life."

Organised by Learning and Work Institute, and supported by the Department for Education, Festival of Learning is an annual campaign which aims both to celebrate the power of learning to transform lives, and to encourage more adults to take part.

Matthew has been selected by HRH The Princess Royal as the winner of the Patron’s Award.

Matthew Turner, winner of the Patron’s Award, said: “Taking this step back into education as an adult has opened so many doors for me and helped me to transform my life.

"It has improved my confidence and I am able to communicate and even lead in group situations.

"My learning has made me more social, and I am now a prominent figure both at college and within my autism group.

"I am looking forward to pursuing my career in the travel industry or perhaps go on to university. I feel ready to take on any challenge now.”

Sarah O’Connell, lecturer in travel, hospitality, aviation and events at Bradford College, said Matthew was an "inspiration to all".

She added: "[He has] achieved so much along his journey to prove to all those who did not give him a chance that he is more than capable.

"He never lets anything stop him. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award and we are all so proud of what Matthew has achieved.”

Stephen Evans, chief executive of Learning and Work Institute, said Matthew had shown "great personal courage".

He added: “It has transformed his life and the possibilities for his future.

"He has embraced learning with open arms, growing in confidence and improving his health and wellbeing.

"We are delighted that HRH The Princess Royal selected Matthew as this year’s Patron’s Award winner.

“Festival of Learning awards celebrate the commitment and achievements of outstanding adult learners, tutors, learning provision and employers.

"These stories show us how transformative lifelong learning can be for individuals, families, communities and society. As we look to build back better after the pandemic, we need to redouble our efforts to widen access to lifelong learning."