Catrin Pugh

Getting back into education after a long break can be daunting for anyone. When you then factor in your responsibilities, or in my case disabilities, it can seem unachievable. But anything that you see as a barrier to further education, it can always be overcome to achieve your goals towards a brighter future.

At the age of 19 I was involved in a coach crash altering the course of my life forever. I suffered third degree burns to 96% of my body and given a 1 in 1000 chance of surviving. Somehow, I beat the odds but it has been challenging.

During my long, on-going road to recovery I have battled numerous health issues that made me doubt whether I had a future. Upon waking up from a three-month coma and numerous surgeries, I couldn’t move. Skin and neurological problems had affected my physical capabilities. My central vision had disappeared and will never return, and I was scarred everywhere from the skin grafts that saved me. I struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder, flashbacks of being alight and the crash recurring in my head. I lost myself and didn’t know how I could or would ever want to enter back into society.

After four years of hard work, learning to walk, eat, speak and live, I began to see that my physical disabilities and mental health issues were less of a barrier and more of a driving force to prove that anything could be achieved if you set your mind to it. I began working with charities as a peer-supporter, helping to motivate others and giving motivational talks to prove that adversity could be overcome. But what I really wanted was to study again and work my way towards a meaningful career where I could make a difference.

I had always had great experiences with healthcare staff, the physiotherapists, they have inspired me whilst giving me back my physical abilities. So, in 2017 I decided to begin the journey to become a physiotherapist, to be the catalyst for change in someone else’s life.

Going back to education was terrifying. I had completed 18 years of education in the fortunate position of having no additional needs, and now I had multiple. But after building the courage to show up, every day got easier. I realised there was more to me than my injuries, I was still intelligent and capable, with adjustments made to make things achievable. With support from tutors at Coleg Cambria I completed a one year Access to Higher Education Course in Biosciences with full Distinctions across the board. I now attend King’s College London and am enjoying and excelling amongst my peers, with new friends and new goals.

I never thought I would live, never mind thrive in the life I now have. Education has given me back control of my life, my story proving that with courage and determination, it is possible to succeed at anything.

Want to know?

Catrin started her journey with Coleg Cambria.

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