I hated boarding school at first but it made me fight back

“I have been asked to tell you a little bit about myself.  “A lump” said Mum.  Words which an 8 year old doesn’t really programme, so I just carried on getting dressed for school and left for a normal day. The next year carried on as normal, school, football and watching my sister grow into a stressy teenager, which we all have been at some point, I know. 

“Although a lot was changing in my Mum’s life, I was still so young I thought it was normal, and carried on meeting the local boys at the rec just down the road to play football whenever I could and played Sunday games for a couple of local teams around Kent.

“I only knew something was wrong when Mum stopped turning up to the matches, and I had to get lifts from other people to training. From then on my sister did everything, literally everything, made me dinner every night and helping our mum, massaging her feet to remove the fluid which built up because she had been lying down all day. I on the other hand had only just been taught how to make a cup of tea, so that was my job.

“While mum’s condition progressed, the family, limited though it was, grew further apart rather than closer. Dad wasn’t around and hadn’t been since I was born, although he had recently walked in and straight back out. I used to argue with my granddad pretty much every time I saw him, which didn’t help the situation, but my uncle helped for most of the time when we needed it.

“I was 11 years old when my mum was admitted to hospital in Canterbury, and we used to visit after school a couple of times a week.  My uncle moved in to our house with his girlfriend. On the 7th February 2006 my uncle and granddad watched my mum die peacefully, and the news reached me and my sister Sophie that morning. Sophie was in tears for hours; from what I remember I was confused and couldn’t think about anything for a while. But I went back to school the next day as a very changed 11 year old, trying to keep my mind off everything. 

“Although my uncle had promised my mum he would look after me and my sister, his promise was shortly broken. One day my Granddad arrived at my friend’s house with his car full of everything that had been in my room at home. Granddad shipped me off to a village in Lincolnshire to live with my godmother while my sister moved to Croydon to live with my Aunty.

“When an opportunity came up to move back with my sister into the home of a family friend, I was pleased to come back to Canterbury and for a while everything seemed like it was getting better; it took me a couple of months of doing nothing until I got a place back at my old school. We stayed there for a good 2 years but during this time I was getting into trouble and having my sister bail me out of getting suspended or expelled quite often for different reasons.

One evening I got the news that my social worker was picking me up in the morning to take me somewhere else, I knew this meant that I would probably be going into care. So Sophie’s friend drove round that night and we secretly packed as much of our stuff we could fit into a suitcase and made off before we could be stopped. 

“From there we went to Sophie’s boyfriend’s home; there were 5 of us living in his 2 bedroom council flat. This is where I started getting into more trouble, going out in the evenings with my sister’s 19 year old boyfriend, doing everything a 14 year old shouldn’t be doing.

“Soon enough we were on the move again, this time into a cottage where Sophie’s boss said we could live for free, however we left again just a few weeks later when Sophie learned of the owner’s police record which was enough to get us on our feet quickly.

“Finally we ended up living with Linda, the mother of Sophie’s friend Hannah, and that is where I live now. My first impression was ‘posh’, but coming from the council estate I think most people were posh to me at that point.  Linda is now my guardian. She quickly got me out of my school in Canterbury and arranged for me to go to Lord Wandsworth College through their Foundation, which gave me the opportunity most people in the world have to pay substantial amounts for. I didn’t really know what to expect, maybe I thought for a minute that it will be full of city boys like me and the thought of sleeping at a school just made me cringe.

“From then on I didn’t live happily ever after, I hated it at first, I hadn’t ever done a piece of homework in my life and having to do work for once shocked me. The people at school weren’t usually people I would mix with, expensive, well-spoken and clever; all this was new to me. I persevered in staying at the school until I started to enjoy it and enjoy their company. No, the school hasn’t made me enjoy writing essays or revising or turned me into some mastermind, but I think back to where I would have been had I not have been given this opportunity. 

“There comes a point in life where you get knocked back so much that you just have to look up and tell yourself that you ARE going to the top, with nothing to keep you from achieving it.

“I passed all 10 of my GCSEs all grades A-C and I passed all 4 of my AS Level subjects just last year. I’m now in my final year at LWC studying Business Studies, Physical Education and Critical Thinking and playing for the 1st XV rugby, 1st XV football and 1st athletics team.

I am hoping to take my learning further to university to study Sport Science and Nutrition.”