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Saturday, 04 July 2015

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Brilliant Barrow teenager triumphs over illness to take A-Level honours

A REMARKABLE Barrow teenager has been hailed an “inspiration” after overcoming a deadly eating disorder and going on to achieve As in her A-Levels – after arriving at college with no GCSEs.

BRIGHT FUTURE From left: Barrow Sixth Form College A-Level students Rachel Mole, Beth Clarke and Paige Wood. Beth achieved three As after overcoming a serious eating disorder and arriving at the college with no GCSEs HARRY ATKINSON REF: 50066795B016

Beth Clarke was beaming as she collected an A in law and two distinctions in health and social care, worth two more As, at Barrow Sixth Form College.

The 19-year-old is now a healthy and happy student who is excited to be reading law at Lancaster University. But at 14 Beth weighed just three-and-a-half stone as she battled EDNOS – which stands for Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.

Beth says weight or “feeling fat” was never the issue, it was a phobia of food making her feel sick or bloated, so she stopped eating.

Her illness caused Beth to miss the last two years of school and not sit any GCSEs as she spent more than a year at the specialist Galaxy House, at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. When she returned to Barrow she attended the Hospital and Home Tuition Service at Priory Grove.

Beth first attended the sixth form to do a skills course. She moved onto GCSEs and then A-Level and diploma studies.

Beth’s progress and achievements have stunned her extremely proud family, teachers, health professionals and Beth herself. She said: “I’m shocked and happy. My family are so proud. I didn’t expect to do this well. I want to become a barrister. I never thought I could do it until I took law at A-Level.

“I’m just so happy and I feel more confident. I came to college with no GCSEs. I was so terrified, my mum had to come with me. I was not fully well and college helped me get over the last little bit.”

Speaking about her illness Beth said: “I’d been poorly since I was about six, but nobody really picked up on what it was until I was about 14. The issue was a fear of being sick. The only way I thought I could not be sick was by not eating anything which seemed logical at the time. I was three-and-a-half stone when I was 14 and went to hospital. I was about five-and-a-half or six stone when I was discharged.”

Beth now weighs around seven-and a half stone. She said: “So many people have helped me. I couldn’t have done this without my family and everyone. The care is absolutely brilliant at college.”

Beth’s mum, Marie, 44, said: “You have no idea how proud we are. Beth’s brilliant.

“She’s gone from being a frightened kid to exactly how she should be, happy and fun-loving. Galaxy House were phenomenal, they put her back together. Priory Grove and Barrow Sixth Form College were brilliant. Priory Grove worked with Beth very carefully and the college looked after her from day one. Beth has flourished and come into her own.”

Sue Hannan, a sixth form director and one of Beth’s tutors, said: “Beth proves what’s possible. She’s achieved all this with humour, commitment and tremendous courage. She has impressed every member of staff who has worked with her. She’s an inspiration.”

Beth’s message to other sufferers is: “It always gets better” and “there is support”.

  • The eight-page A-Level special in today's Evening Mail features photographs, results and reaction from students and staff at Barrow Sixth Form College, Chetwynde School, Ulverston Victoria High School, Millom School and The Lakes School
Have your say

What an inspiring story! Well done Beth!

Posted by Christine on 16 August 2014 at 21:57

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