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Students inspired by tutor’s new life direction

Posted: 18 January 2021

A West Nottinghamshire College tutor who went from rock bottom to feeling “so incredibly proud” is inspiring others in the community to use education to change and succeed.

Liz Walsh, now a complementary therapies tutor, worked as a professional singer for over 30 years all over the world.

With no formal singing training, Liz gathered her confidence and love for entertaining as a Butlin’s Red Coat back when she was 17.

She said: “At just 17 I was on fire! I couldn’t wait to get out in the world and my year at Butlin’s got me the grounding and confidence for entertaining, singing, performing in shows and socialising. It was just brilliant.”

Liz went on to work as a professional singer getting experience in bands in London then on cruise ships all over the world. She then returned up north to pursue her solo career working in lots of clubs singing all genres of songs.

It was when illness hit her family that she was forced to stop her singing career. She said: “I had a bad chest infection and was poorly for months. My mum also got diagnosed with cancer and in just four months her health deteriorated so badly – then she sadly died. So to earn a living I ended up working in retail – a completely different world to my former career.”

As well as caring for her young daughter, working long hours and the culmination of her grief from losing her mum, Liz’s mental health started to decline.

Friends who saw Liz sinking into depression suggested she take a look at a floristry course at a local college to give her a bit of motivation. This was something she found solace in and was soon encouraged to enrol onto a level 3 teaching qualification.

She said: “After studying the short floristry course it really opened my eyes that there were plenty of opportunities out there and it gave me the boost I needed. So when the chance to take the teaching qualification came, I jumped at it. I knew that I wanted to give it a try and I also wanted my daughter to grow up being proud of her mum."

And then her teaching career at West Nottinghamshire College began in January 2019 when Liz became a tutor in the adult and community team, teaching complementary therapies at the Chesterfield Road campus. Courses include introduction to massage, aromatherapy, making bath bombs and bath salts as well as a class aimed at creating journals to combat anxiety.

Liz said: “This was an ideal opportunity because it meant I could then combine the teaching with my Diploma in Anatomy Physiology and Massage Level 3 and the Aromatherapy qualification which I’d studied at West Notts some 20 years before!

“I began to feel so incredibly proud of how I had changed and to be able to help other people to improve their lives through these courses was so rewarding.

“In more recent times where we’ve seen more people struggling with isolation, depression and loneliness, to be able to still take small classes has given people that chance to interact, make new friends and learn skills to help them to relax or reinvigorate.”

And prior to the government’s more stringent rules, Liz was able to run small singing classes entitled Singing To Build Confidence – seeing her passion for song passed on to others.

Liz added: “I can’t wait until we’re able to bring these classes back so I can help people discover the power of singing to feel good whilst engaging people in education – which was a lifeline for me during difficult times.

“I went from everything in my life being depressing to feeling amazing. I really am a different person today. I wasn’t confident and now I’m so proud of all I’ve achieved.

“The community team here at college are amazing. We have lots of great ideas for future courses and the classes are always very popular – I see a lot of returning students come to enjoy the self-help courses. It’s amazing to see so many people make these incredible learning journeys.”

To find out more about the college’s adult and community courses, visit www.wnc.ac.uk/adults

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