Sheffield mature student praised for learning achievements

A disabled mature student from the University of Sheffield has received national recognition for encouraging others to give learning a go, after transforming her own life through education.

Ali Hayward, a mature student in the University's Institute for Lifelong Learning, received an Individual Regional Award as part of Adult Learners' Week. The awards honour and celebrate remarkable individuals who have made a difference to their lives through learning and have inspired others to return to learning and recognise their potential.

Ali returned to studying after leaving school in her early teens due to her disability and she later suffered from post-natal depression after the birth of her child, who was diagnosed with having cerebral palsy. To overcome this, Ali decided to volunteer with a disability charity, and then embarked on a Creative Writing Certificate. She then went on to a part-time degree in Literature and Creative Media at the University of Sheffield.

Ali received the award in a ceremony in Leeds on 19 May 2010. The award was presented by writer and broadcaster Ian Clayton.

Ali said: "My life has changed beyond anything I expected. I'm excited about my future. I am hoping to be able to use the award as a platform to encourage others, but particularly other disabled people, to believe that education is not only a viable positive option, but a realistic and life changing one too. It's powerful and for me is a privilege I never thought I'd have."

Sandra Courtman from The Institute for Lifelong Learning said, "The University has always recognised Ali's achievements but as the recipient of this regional award, she has now been publicly acknowledged as a remarkable adult learner. Creative writing tutors at the Institute for Lifelong Learning have encouraged Ali throughout her studies but she would particularly like to thank Rob Hindle for nominating her for the award."

Notes for Editors: Adult Learners' Week is the UK's largest and longest running learning campaign. Held each May, it encourages thousands of adults, whatever their age and background, to give learning a go.

For further information please contact: Lauren Anderson, Media Relations Officer, on 0114 2221046 or email l.h.anderson@sheffield.ac.uk