(L-R) Freda Hearn, Linda Reay and Audrey Thornton stand with their latest arrangements

Fresh Start For Floristry Trio

Wed, 2001-10-24 01:00

Three mature students are setting off on a whole new career path after enrolling on a course in floristry which is being backed by their former employer.

Audrey Thornton, 59, Freda Hern, 57, and Linda Reay, 63, all volunteered for redundancy due to changes at their previous employer and then decided to enrol at East Durham College’s Houghall Campus on the course.

The ladies had the opportunity to take part in work-based courses from their previous employer, helping them to look for a new career. But instead they decided to take a different route and head back into education to learn about a whole new area altogether.

Audrey explained: “When we got put into a possible redundancy situation we got offered to go on various training courses.

“There were different companies arranged to come in showing us how to write CVs and helping us out with how to apply for jobs, so we could have signed up with these and got one-to-one tuition.

“But then we were told how much money our employer would allocate for a course, so we looked at what else was available using this money.”

And it was Linda who then went away to do the research, finding out about the floristry course at Houghall, she then rang up course leader Sue Lee, who’s enthusiasm for the ladies to join lead to her push towards this course choice.

Linda, who spent 20 years with her former employer, said: “I went away and did some research into what courses were available and then I found the course here at Houghall.

“So I got straight on the phone to Sue (Lee) and she was so enthusiastic about the story and getting us involved with the course that I just enrolled there and then. 

“Then I told Freda and Audrey about the course and they were both up for it so here we are, sat in exactly the same formation we were sat in back at work just within a totally new environment.”

But it’s not just the course that their former employers have paid for. The company has also paid for new equipment, materials and some flowers that the ladies need for their studies.

Freda, who worked for over 30 years with her former employer, added: “This allowance hasn’t only gave us the funding for the course but it’s paid for new toolboxes for each of us to keep our equipment in and will also pay for some flowers and books that we also need for the course.”

And despite being mature students the ladies are embracing life at the College and are really enjoying this opportunity to meet new people in and around the Houghall Campus.

Audrey said: “The strange thing is that this is the first time I have been in a college environment. And we have met all these lovely young people.

“We are hoping to get the opportunity to buddy up or be matched with them because I feel that they will teach us a lot of skills but also I feel we can give them something back with our life skills and we just feel we can help them in so many ways.

Freda added: “And the atmosphere here is lovely. We have only been here three weeks but everyone has been so welcoming and everyone has been lovely.

“It’s strange coming into a college environment after you’ve been away from it for so many years. But it’s just been really great and we look forward to coming in every week.”