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Monday, 06 July 2015

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New-found skill brought Millom father back from brink

A SUICIDAL father-of-three who could hardly read or write has turned his life around with the help of staff at Millom Network Centre.

Alan Chelton, 54, said he would “not be here today” if he had not been referred to the Network Centre – and had even considered throwing himself under a bus when he was at his lowest ebb.

Since then he has completed an Adult Literacy Core Curriculum Programme, under the one-to-one tutelage of volunteer and former Millom School head teacher Maureen Hughes.

He said: “On that first day I was sweating all the way there. When I got there, I just wanted to run away.”

Network Centre manager Paul Stewart described seeing Mr Chelton appear to sign the visitors’ book and flick through a catalogue, before making for the exit.

He said: “I just thought there had to be something we could do for him, and I quickly ran it by Maureen who happened to be walking past.

“We called him back in and Maureen sat him down for a chat and a cup of tea and he explained that he could not write.”

The former shipyard worker and HMP Haverigg prison officer says he spent his entire adult life hiding his illiteracy from friends and co-workers.

He said: “I should have won an Oscar for the way I could hide it. If it was someone’s birthday at work, I would take the day off so I could skip signing the card.”

Mr Chelton did not have an easy upbringing in Walney, where he grew up before moving to Millom.

His alcoholic father left home when he was five, leaving his mother to look after five children.

“I was working on a farm collecting milk when I was seven.

“I only went to school about two days a week, because you could get away with it in those days,” he said.

Now Mr Chelton is looking to set a good example to his own children Bradley, Jody and Emily Grace.

“I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for Maureen and the Network Centre; it has completely changed my life and given me confidence.

“There must be other people out there in the same boat I was, and I want to tell them to come down to the Network Centre and take that first step,” he added.

Mr Chelton has now enrolled on a computer skills course and is undertaking voluntary work at he Network Centre as he builds up his CV to get a new job.

Anyone interested in courses and learning support at the Network Centre should call 01229 719650.

Have your say

It,s a great story but you have to ask yourself how did he get a job in the shipyard or at HMP Haverigg in the first place.

Posted by Ade on 24 April 2013 at 21:34

Well done Alan, you have shown such courage in sharing this story. You have helped other people to realise that anything can be achieved if you are determined enough and have the right support. Good luck with your learning journey, I hope you are now enjoying being alive!

Posted by Angela on 24 April 2013 at 18:27

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