A single father-of-four who had to give up work after an undiagnosed back injury forced him into a wheelchair, has been recognised for his educational achievements.
Craig Clackett, from Church Road, Twinstead, picked up the Sudbury Learning Centre Learner of the Year award after returning to his studies when injury ended his career.
The 43-year-old single parent to four young girls, was signposted to the centre by Jobcentre Plus after being forced into a wheelchair.
He said: “After spending six years bringing up four young daughters on my own following my divorce, things took a turn for the worse when an undiagnosed back injury led to my being in a wheelchair.
“I had been an electrician, which was quite a physical job, but suddenly I was trapped at home and unable to work.
“It hit me hard – I struggled to come to terms with it and I was at my lowest point and felt useless. I was getting very depressed and being stuck at home was adding to my depression.
“My girls were saddened by the events and I hated myself even more. I knew I had to get a grip to make our home a happy place again.”
After speaking to a Jobcentre Plus advisor he was forwarded to the Leap Centre in Sudbury, part of West Suffolk College.
“It was the best decision possible because the staff welcomed me and listened to what I needed and advised me on all my options,” he said.
He started a photography course alongside an IT course and an English level two, before going on to study GCSE maths and English, enjoying the lessons as well as spending time with the new friends he had met.
“My friends suggested I would make a good tutor and that made me think hard about the future. My aim now is to gain top marks and further my skills to make a new career as an adult maths tutor.
“I am so happy now and my girls are too, they notice the change in me and our home is pleasant once more.
“I have recommended the college to others and am so grateful to them all.
I will complete my aim as I have that drive and confidence back, that is down to the college staff.”
His tutor, Robert Fish, said: “Craig is a hugely popular and inspirational member of his class.
“He has set up a support group for the maths group.”