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Adult Learning is Just The Ticket For Former Traffic Warden

PENSIONER Jim Fowler is spending his retirement becoming an expert in computers, criminals and coffins after discovering he could study for free at his local adult community college.

The 65-year-old former traffic warden and Sainsbury’s manager said he was bored and frustrated after a year of lockdown until his daughter Della told him about the free part-time courses at the Adult Community College at St Vincent in Gosport.

She suggested Mr Fowler, who lives in Gosport with wife Kath, enrol on a six-week forensics course at the college. “When I was a traffic warden I was based at the police station and I always took an interest in forensics so she thought I’d like it and I did, it was brilliant,” he said.

Since then he has bolstered his knowledge by studying child psychology, word processing and computing and is now embarking on a course about the history of death and burial.

“This college is like my second home, the staff are brilliant and are so friendly, knowledgeable and encouraging,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it is all free because the courses are so well run and so informative.

“The computing course was only supposed to be six weeks but Di who runs it is so good it is now in its 16thweek. It’s just really nice being with the same people and learning along with them.”

Mrs Fowler also studied the forensics course and has since studied woodworking and is now doing criminology. “She finds it fascinating and really enjoyable,” said Mr Fowler. “The courses have really opened a window for us because it is fun to be learning at this time of our lives, we really appreciate it. It is also great to get out and meet people from different walks of life in the classroom.

“I’ll carry on doing courses as long as I can because it is great fun and I’d recommend it to anybody, I’d never have guessed that we’d be going back to the classroom in our retirement and enjoying it as much as we do.”

Jim Folwer and wife Kath, outside the Adult Community College, St Vincent College.

The Adult Community College is run at a separate site at St Vincent college with views over Portsmouth Harbour. It offers dozens of courses ranging from NVQs in care, IT or business admin to lifestyle interest such as guitar, carpentry, photography.

The college also offers English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses for refugees to help support them into education and employment.

Tracey Strong, who runs the community college said: “All of our courses are free to anyone earning less than £18,000 a year. We are really proud of the variety of our courses and for anyone who wants to get back into work, pursue a hobby or who just enjoys learning there is something there for them.

“We have a drop-in every Tuesday from 10am to noon for anyone who wants to come in and talk about a course.”

The college is also organising an open day on Wednesday May 25 from 4 to 8pm, where staff will be on hand to discuss courses, costs and availability. There will also be a chance to sample tasters of the courses on offer, refreshments and entertainment for children

Find out more about the courses on offer at stvincent.ac.uk/adult-education/adultcommunitycollege, email acc@stvincent.ac.uk or call 02392 603 606.

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