A Whitchurch woman with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) believes going back to study has been the turning point in getting back to her old life.
Caroline Gudgion, 50, from Whitchurch, worked in the health industry all her life until her diagnosis in November 2013 meant her ability to work and socialise was drastically changed.
But after reaching ‘rock bottom’, she applied to do a Level 3 counselling course at Shrewsbury College.
She says it is now a crucial part of her life, restoring her confidence to such an extent she will join in a sailing experience for charity in October.
“The last time I studied was 20 years ago at degree level,” said Caroline, who is a mother of two and moved to Whitchurch in 2001.
“With my short-term memory problems, it did take me longer to complete assignments.
“My lecturer Donna Morris was very supportive from day one. She gave me the encouragement and positive feedback I needed to keep going.
“I had very low self-esteem and confidence when I embarked on my course. Thanks to Donna and my fellow classmates, I feel I am well on the way back to being the person I was.
“I gained so much confidence on this course and since completing it, I have enrolled to take part in the Oceans of Hope, Sailing for Sclerosis Challenge.
“In October, I am going to Barcelona to learn how to sail a yacht and hopefully qualify as a competent crew member.
“Attending college had become an important part of my life. Some weeks it was the only place I managed to go.
“Some weeks I found hard, mentally, emotionally and physically, but I always felt in a better place when I left.
“My husband has been my rock throughout my journey, taking care of me, encouraging and supporting me when I have been at my lowest ebb. He has stood by me and we celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary at the end of July this year.
“Completing the counselling course was my turning point in life – accepting my diagnosis and moving forwards. It made me push myself to do things and as a result I couldn’t be happier.”
Catherine Armstrong, group vice-principal for curriculum support and business development, added: “Caroline is an absolute credit to not only herself, but the college – and I know her counselling lecturer Donna Morris has endorsed her.
“She had some huge barriers to learning, which would prevent a lot of people from taking up a course like this.
“It’s wonderful to hear how much she got out of it, not only educationally, but also through support from the college and her peers.”
Caroline will be taking to the seas in October and will raise money for the Neuro Therapy Centre in Chester.
The Centre supports people with neurological conditions including MS, Parkinson’s, ME and MND, and their carers from across Cheshire, North Wales and the Wirral.
To find out more, visit www.neurotherapycentre.org
Caroline sets sail on October 9 and will finish on October 14. You can donate to her cause by visiting https://mydonate.bt.com/events/