Wrexham pensioner Len, 86, overcomes two strokes to become learner of the year

Reporter:

Rory Sheehan

A PENSIONER who fought back from two strokes has been crowned ‘Learner of the Year’.

Len Murphy, 86, from Garden Village, Wrexham, suffered two strokes seven years ago, but has since taken a computer skills course and is now embarking on an Open University Degree in Languages and Culture.

Mr Murphy, who was born in 1930 and will complete the degree in 2019, has been crowned ‘Learner of the Year’ at the Wrexham Adult and Community Learning Partnership awards.

Donna Dickinson, service manager prevention and support at Wrexham Council, with Len Murphy and Nicola Holmes from Adult Learning Wales

He suffered two strokes seven years ago and began a basic computer course after his recovery.

Mr Murphy said he was living in France at the time of the strokes, enjoying his retirement after working in insurance, but they and personal reasons inspired him to return to Wrexham and further his education.

He said: “It feels fantastic to have won the award.

“I really enjoyed living in France but my wife died and I had those strokes.

“The French health service were brilliant but I decided to come back to Wrexham to enjoy life as much as I can and catch up on what I missed out on when I was younger.

“It has not been too difficult as I’ve always had an interest in computing and foreign languages but I left school at 16 and went straight into a job.

“Now I’m doing this Open University degree as well and enjoying it very much.”

Joy Williams from Adult Learning Wales, nominated Len for the Adult Learner Award.

She said: “Len is 86 years young.

“He enrolled on a basic computer course following his strokes.

“If he did not feel well enough to drive or if the roads were icy, he used Chariots taxi service to bring him to class.

“He was determined to never miss one. After the computer course he progressed to learning about the internet, emailing and desktop publishing.

“He is currently enrolled on a PowerPoint and Excel spreadsheets course and has been learning Spanish for the past three years.”

Joy added: “After school Len’s family could not afford for him to go to university and gain a degree, but in 2016 he started an Open University degree in Languages and Culture and is due to gain a BA (Hons) in 2019.

“Len uses the computer skills he has learned to complete his university assignments.

“Len is simply an inspiration.”

He also picked up the Overall Learner of the Year Award at the event, which welcomed learners and tutors from across the area.

Entertainment at the awards event held at Wrexham Library was provided by Sound Express, a band formed through Emerge Community Arts.

They run Adult Learning Wales accredited courses with learners across Flintshire and Wrexham, working with people who have autism, physical and learning difficulties and mental health issues.

They build communities through the Arts and connect their learners to other projects they run and provide volunteer opportunities.

‘Sound Express’ is a band that includes people who experience autism and learning difficulties.

They have been part of a coursefor two years now and regularly perform and gig around the localand wider area.

Other winners at the event were:

  • Essential Skills Award – Tricia Roberts
  • Young Learner Award – Jessica Pemberton
  • Progression in Learning – Ashok Chopra
  • Life and Career Change Award – Peter Jones
  • Welsh Learner Award – Wrexham Library Staff
  • Tutor Award – Jane Hand
  • Community Learning Project – Butterflies

See full story in the Leader

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