Posted: Tuesday 11th July 2017
“Learning to use a tablet has been great; it’s enabled me to see what my family are up to on Facebook and feel involved,” says Don Coughtrey, who scooped the Peer Award at the 2017 Learner Awards.
The annual event is held by the Hertfordshire Adult and Family Learning Service (HAFLS) and celebrates the incredible achievements of deserving individuals and groups.
Nothando Tawodzera also triumphed, winning the Progression and Employability Award. Read about the remarkable journeys of Don and Nothando below.
Don Coughtrey, 78, from Dacorum in Hemel Hempstead, proves that you are never too old to learn new skills and to get to grips with technology.
After retiring from his job as a painter and decorator and moving to sheltered housing at William Crook House, he wanted to feel less isolated and to be able to interact more with his family and friends by learning basic digital skills to help him get online.
He said: “I have never been involved with any sort of technology. My grandchildren always had to order things for me online and they were always encouraging me to gain more digital skills.”
After attending a Hertfordshire Adult and Family Learning Service (HAFLS) coffee morning at William Crook House, he decided to join one of the courses and develop more of a working knowledge of technology.
He found the experience hugely boosted his confidence. “The course was very well run and I enjoyed the lessons. I wish it had gone on longer. I learnt a lot and the tutors were very helpful and patient.”
His enthusiasm and hard work paid off when he scooped the Peer Award at the HAFLS Learner Awards.
He explained that learning how use a computer tablet in his seventies, has meant so much to him and his family: “I enjoy seeing all their pictures and videos, as well as emailing and keeping in touch. I’m planning to do a Skype course so I can video call my family around the country, which will be fantastic.”
Don now talks at HAFLS coffee mornings to encourage others of his generation to take up similar opportunities.
“I got so much from it the course that I wanted to give something back. I explain to those who don’t have friends or family who live nearby that getting online is a way of feeling close to them every day.”
Single mother Nothando Tawodzera wanted a fresh start and to upskill after she was made redundant from her job as an accounts assistant. Nothando was no stranger to new challenges. At 17, she moved from Zimbabwe to the UK to pursue her dreams of further education.
She completed a Psychology degree at Portsmouth University and afterwards, gave birth to her son, who is now 12-years-old. Nothando then moved to Hatfield in Hertfordshire where sheworked as a youth worker alongside her day job.
Following the loss of her job, she began to apply for new roles but found that she had lost confidence in her interview skills. So after completing a computer course, she enrolled on a “Win the Interview” course run by the HAFLS.
She found that she immediately reaped the benefits. Nothando said: “It was a really good course and the wealth of information was just great. I got better at applications and the practice for interviews was really thorough - it really boosted my confidence.”
Nothando was praised by her tutors for her enthusiasm and her commitment was rewarded when she picked up the Progression and Employability Award at the HAFLS Learner Awards.
Her hard work has also paid off: Nothando was recently offered a new job as a skills coach at BPP. She urges anyone who has experienced similar worries to take the plunge and embrace learning new skills. “My advice to anyone thinking of doing this course would be to go with an open mind and try and learn as much as possible and they will really benefit.”
HAFLS works with over 7,000 individuals each year, with the majority aged over 19 but also provide courses for families and young people ages 16 – 24.
The team encourages and provides enjoyable learning experiences for Hertfordshire residents, in particular those who are most in need or have the least opportunity to achieve formal and informal qualifications.
Find out more online about courses provided by HAFLS or call the HAFLS team on 01992 556194