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Read about the positive impact our courses can have on the lives of our participants.

Debbie Craggs

Debbie Craggs - Inspirational Learner of the Year

A County Durham grandma says she's getting her life back on track, thanks in part to a series of courses run by our Adult Learning and Skills Service.

Debbie Craggs from Bowburn has just been crowned Inspirational Learner of the Year at the service's annual awards after her English and Maths tutor nominated her.

The 55-year-old has been learning with the service for nearly a year, but after some difficult personal times, she found herself struggling with day-to-day life and turned to alcohol for an escape.

Debbie's story

Debbie said: "I've always been a drinker since I was about 14 and alcohol has always been an escape for me. I had an abusive partner when I was younger and ended up in a refuge and drinking was my way of getting through it all. I didn't want to drink, but I just kept going.

"Recently, I found myself drinking again and even though I was going along to my English and Maths courses, I just couldn't concentrate. My tutor Chloe was brilliant though and kept in touch with me when I decided to have a break from the course and then encouraged me to come back when I was ready."

A positive influence

Debbie, who also suffers with anxiety, explained how the course has helped her since then: "It was like I was dying inside through loneliness and not getting out of the house. Through the courses, I've met some lovely people, it's nice to spend time with other people and when I pass them in Durham I can wave and say hello.

"I'm so much more confident now too and I'm learning new things all the time, not just where to put my apostrophes and how to do percentages, but about how to get over things that scared me before, like getting the bus to get me out and about, which I was always too nervous to do before."

Debbie is now also attending sessions with Alcoholics Anonymous and is looking forward to learning even more with the Adult Learning and Skills Service.

What her tutor says

Chloe McMorris, said: "Debbie is the epitome of a hard-working student, she works extremely hard to understand and grasp new concepts always asks for work to take away for her to complete in her own time.

"She admitted in group the other day, that although it helps her to retain the information if she practices in her own time, if she's completing work at home, it helps to keep her distracted from her own personal demons.

"I'm delighted that she was crowned the winner at our awards this year and I'm sure it will be the lift that she needs, and so thoroughly deserves."

So much more than a course

Cllr Olwyn Gunn, Cabinet member for children and young people's services, who presented the award, said: "Debbie is an inspiration. This is a woman who has been through so much in her personal life and who, despite all odds, has battled to stay strong and is now determined to make a better life for herself and her family. 

"It is wonderful to hear how the Adult Learning and Skills Service has helped Debbie and I am proud that as a council we work in partnership with organisations like J&K Training who deliver some of our courses.

"Debbie's story goes to show that our service provides so much more than the chance to improve your skills. For Debbie and others like her, courses like this can be a real lifeline and the ripple effect of the positive impact they have is quite special."

Contact us
Adult Learning and Skills Service
03000 266 115
Our address is:
  • Durham County Council
  • Crook Council Offices
  • Crook
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DL15 9ES
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