Flood fails to knock Alison off course

28.05.11. pictures courtesy The Open University.'Graduation ceremony at Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall'general images of Graduates preparing,'Alison Hay, Northeast
28.05.11. pictures courtesy The Open University.'Graduation ceremony at Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall'general images of Graduates preparing,'Alison Hay, Northeast

A MORPETH mother-of-six has triumphed over adversity to complete a distance learning degree after 10 years of study.

Alison Havery, of High Stanners, left school with no qualifications and settled into a book-keeping job, but she always wanted a more fulfilling role.

The life-changing moment came when her husband Iain was in a car crash and suffered serious head injuries. Mrs Havery was impressed by the dedicated nursing care he received and decided that she would like to support people in similar positions in her own way.

“I was really interested in Iain’s treatment plan after his accident and concerned at the apparent lack of post traumatic stress care. I wanted to train to help him and people like him so approached the Open University about the possibility of following a psychology course and was accepted,” she said.

“Even though my second baby was just a year old, the time seemed right and I really wanted that kind of buzz.”

Mrs Havery was terrified as she approached her first tutorial and wasn’t sure she would be able to complete the work, but she quickly began to enjoy her studies.

Despite giving birth to four more children over the years, she managed to stick with the course.

However, years into her psychology studies, the 39-year-old decided to change direction and take up philosophy, which she had touched on through some of her previous course work. Even with the prospect of more study, she was convinced it was for her.

But in September 2008 disaster struck when the Morpeth flood swamped the family home.

The children had to be taken out by boat and the rising waters wiped out Mrs Havery’s course notes and books. The family were forced out of their home for 11 months while the restoration was completed.

Mrs Havery said: “We stayed in a caravan initially, then with friends, before being accommodated in a hotel. Iain had to go back home to protect it from looters and the children and I were in different rooms so it wasn’t an easy time.”

The Open University replaced all her lost books and notes and was a tower of support.

Now she has finally seen the years of hard work pay off, with her proud family looking on at her graduation ceremony.

“I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would complete the course,” she said.

“It has given me greater self-esteem and increased my confidence. I cannot recommend it highly enough to anyone who wants to improve themselves. Study is infectious — once you start it’s impossible to stop and the longer it goes on, the less you want to give it up. I loved every moment.”

Mrs Havery has also been taking NVQs and ‘on the job’ training days, and now she is running a pre-school group to help her save towards her Masters Degree, which she is determined to pursue.

The Open University Assistant Director Dr Liz Manning said: “At a time when university education is becoming more expensive, the Open University remains the obvious choice for students who want to minimise student debt and continue to earn while they study and continues to offer better value pro-rata than full-time degrees.”