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From trauma to poetry and prose

A former primary teacher has been named "champion learner of the year" by Learndirect Scotland after overcoming the loss of literacy skills when her brain haemorrhaged during surgery.

Gill Bastock attended the Cowane Centre in Stirling, attracted by a "Brush up your English" course. She is now writing poetry and prose, has begun a novel and is presently working on a radio play.

Eight awards were presented at a ceremony in Edinburgh this week, including those of older and younger learner of the year and personal achiever (which also went to Ms Bastock). Champions are nominated annually, based on the severity of the learning obstacles overcome, speed of learning and overall achievement.

Frank Pignatelli, Learndirect Scotland's chief executive, said the awards were about encouraging the 50 per cent of the population who like him had left school with little or no qualifications.

The older learner of the year is John Murdoch, aged 69, a former Lanarkshire miner who was unable to read and write for over five decades of his life. The young learner of the year is Claire Lyttle from Dundee, who unexpectedly became pregnant but is now doing an honours degree in psychology.

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