Tony Ketchely, Treloar college, Hampshire

2nd December 2005 at 00:00
Tony Ketchely, 18, is the first in his traveller family to go into further education. So starting this autumn as a full-time photography student at Treloar college, in Hampshire, was "unusual, but I'm getting used to it".

Tony has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. He recalls frequent bullying during his school career, focused on his disability and his family. "It was brutal and upsetting. I had 75 to 80 detentions in my first month at secondary school, which was a record." By the time he left school, he was disaffected and conscious of how much improvement his literacy skills needed.

When his social worker suggested returning to education, he thought of the 35mm single lens reflex camera given to him by his grandfather: "He gave it to me when I was ten or eleven, but he looked after it until I was old enough to take care of it myself. I kept it in the back of a wardrobe, so I knew where it was and it was safe."

What he did not know was how to use it. Hence his decision to start the two-year certificated course. He shows talent, says his tutor Tracey Harrod: "He's very capable and has the right attitude for images and creating pictures. He thinks creatively. He comes up with really good ideas."

But he also has motivation to follow a literacy programme in his free time:

"I was the only disabled person in my school, but when I came here everyone else was disabled too, and the bullying disappeared.

"By the time I finish, hopefully I'll have grown up and be able to look after myself and my family. If I didn't carry on with education I wouldn't be able to do anything with my life."

Interviews by Karen Gold

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