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Inspirational young carer receives national award for academic achievement against all odds

Leanne Tonks PR & Social Media Officer

Designed to recognise learners who have overcome difficult personal circumstances in order to succeed in their studies, the ‘Against all Odds’ Aspiration Award is very special and always attracts a huge volume of nominations.

This year’s well-deserved winner, Holly Bailey, is a fantastic example of an inspirational young learner who hasn’t let her sometimes complicated home life stop her from achieving her goals.

Managing multiple responsibilities

18-year old Holly is a student at Itchen Sixth Form College in Southampton, where she is currently studying towards her CACHE Level 3 Diploma in Childcare and Education.

Described by her tutors as “A highly motivated, diligent young learner that will not let her own personal challenges glaze her vision of a much brighter future,” Holly has been held up as an exemplary student due to her grit and determination to complete her work to the highest possible standard, despite struggling with her self-confidence and having to juggle a part-time supervisor’s job, as well as caring responsibilities for three siblings with additional needs.

Stepping up to care for her siblings

One of four children, Holly has an older brother with Autism, a younger sister with ADHD, and a further younger brother who also needs close care, which Holly helps to provide alongside her parents.

“My brothers and sister all have different ways that they struggle,” Holly said.

“It can be difficult at times as they need a lot more support than I do so I often have to step in, especially to look after my little brother when my parents need to take the others to appointments and things.

“It can get overwhelming to manage everything at the same time and I have struggled to do coursework at home as there isn’t a quiet place to sit and work, but my teachers, namely Louise LeMarquand, Claire Eades, Jan Lyons and Michael Bohan have all been very understanding and supportive.

“Whenever I was feeling down, they’d let me just talk to them and they’d suggest ideas on how I should deal with it. They also encouraged me to have a little bit of counselling to help make sure I didn’t swerve off in the wrong direction.”

Passionate about making a difference

While still in school, Holly completed a work experience placement in a pre-school setting, which she really enjoyed, which is what initially drove her to pursue a career in childcare and early years education, however, her experiences caring for her brothers and sister have also been a big influence on her studies.

“In the future, I would love to work with children with special educational needs,” Holly continued.

“I want to make a difference to help children with additional needs feel ‘normal’ and just like every other child, not made to feel different because of their abilities. I’m really passionate about equality and want to see all children treated equally, with fair opportunities.”

Looking ahead to the future

Holly has aspirations to continue her studies beyond her Level 3 Diploma and potentially attend university to study towards a degree in early years education, something which Holly’s tutors are in full support of.

James Bailey, Head of Faculty Social Sciences and Care at Itchen Sixth Form College, who nominated Holly for the Against all Odds Aspiration Award, commented:

“I am so proud of Holly’s achievement. Holly is a very deserving recipient of this award given her many responsibilities and challenges. She epitomises the philosophy of the early years team showing ‘traditional standards for the contemporary practitioner’. Holly’s passion to make a difference to the lives of those she cares for is admirable and a highly worthy moral attribute! Well done Holly!”

“I was so surprised when I got the email to say that I’d won, I didn’t think it was real!” Holly added.

“A lot of working with children is about being able to overcome struggles and this award proves that I am still able to do what I want to do, irrespective of challenges in my personal life.

“I don’t usually win anything, so it’s great that my hard work has paid off. All I’d say to anyone in a similar situation is don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it, it doesn’t make you a weak person. People are understanding, so asking for someone to support you can be the best thing that you can do.”