Recently, I have been having to deal with the loss of a very close family member. My Nan sadly passed away on the 18th June. Today was the day that her ashes were scattered in the place that she wanted and this has led to reflect on what an inspiration my Nan has been towards me. Whilst it has nearly been a month since her passing, I have been able to reflect on the impact she has had on both my coaching and teaching career.
My Nan spent more than 25 years working for Coventry City Council in various primary schools around Coventry in the job role which is commonly known as a ‘dinner lady’. When she reached a good age she retired and was showered with gifts from the school she retired from and made many lifelong friends.
When I was making grown up life decisions back when I knew I wanted to go to university, my Nan asked me what it was I wanted to do with my life. My reply was that I wanted to work with children in either a coaching or a teaching capacity. To me, there is no greater feeling than working with children. When you develop their learning and see them grow as individuals ready to take on the world. The feeling is indescribable.
As I have previously said, my Nan was a great inspiration to me. Through my year studying at two different universities, she was always wondering what I was up to and what my plan was.
My plans over the years have changed and as of yet, are not complete. But, my Nan has been there every step of the way. It wasn’t easy for me getting into university, but I ended up going after been accepted by the University of Worcester to undertake a Higher National Diploma in Sports Coaching. In my final year of the course, I experienced some struggles but I battled through, completed the course and topped up to a degree in BSc Physical Education and Sports Coaching Science. At my graduation ceremony, my Nan was so proud and she made me aware of that fact. The picture below is always something that I will cherish and I memory that will stay with me forever.
My primary plan was to eventually become a PE teacher. Even in the middle of secondary school, I knew I wanted to work with children within a learning environment of some sort.
My Nan, well, when I told her I wanted to be a teacher she (sarcastically) could not understand it. Then I told her I wanted to teach in secondary schools. After her 25 plus years working with primary children, she must have thought that I was mad to want to teach in secondary schools.
During the latter stages of my undergraduate degree, I started applying for teacher training courses. My first three choices turned me down and this hit me hard. I thought my dream was over, but I was determined to get a place somewhere. With the support of my family, my Nan telling me to never give up, I went into the second stage of applying for teacher training places. After various attempts again where I was turned down even after attending interviews, I was emailed one day by the PGDipEd course leader at the University of Birmingham. I was originally turned down by the University of Birmingham, but it so happens that a place became available. I had to meet their entry requirements to get on the course. Knowing how proud my family would be if I got on the course I put myself to work meeting the entry requirements for the University of Birmingham and was offered a place on the course. My family, especially my Nan was so proud. To this day I can recall the conversation that I had over the phone on the day that my place was officially confirmed.
Anyone that has undergone teacher training will tell you that it is possibly the hardest that you will ever work during a university course. I, for one, will back up that claim. Teacher training for me was difficult. Throughout my two placements, I fell out with a close family member, another member of my family started suffering from mental health issues. Being away from the main family home whilst being at university is hard, but when you know that family members are suffering, it makes it even harder.
My Nan supported me through teacher training, she was my rock. When I got the chance to go home and visit my Nan, I would. It was a great chance for me to unload what was on my mind. Looking back, there was a lot on my mind, but my Nan was there to listen and put my mind that rest that all would be okay. I had to focus on my future and she knew that.
After a lengthy second teaching placement, I qualified as a teacher. My Nan was so proud. But, I had not and still have not achieved what I desire. A teaching role within a school. After leaving Birmingham, I went to Norway to coach football.
After leaving Birmingham, I went to Norway to coach football. My Nan also knows that I have a dream to move away from England to pursue teaching abroad. When I got back to England, I had no teaching job so had to sign on for benefits, something which I never see myself doing but I had no choice. After suffering, even more, setbacks following, even more, rejections from schools. I finally got my break and accepted a job working for Coventry Sports Foundation where I would get the chance to coach children in various primary school around Coventry. My Nan was so proud, she could see how frustrated I was getting being on benefits.
Every time I visited my Nan, she would ask how my job is going and we would have great conversations about some of the schools that I have coached in. She still thought me crazy for wanting to work with secondary school pupils but she knows that I have the determination and the desire to make a change.
There are many things that I will miss about my Nan. She has been the family rock that through times of family despair has held the family together. She will be sadly missed by all who were close to her. For me, she will be missed for many reasons. Regardless of her passing, there will be many happy memories that I can look back on. She has been my inspiration something which I never got to tell her or better yet thank her for.
Wherever my Nan is now, I can only hope that she is at peace and is proud of whatever I do with my life. Wherever I go, I shall never forget my Nan. So quite simply all I have left to say is: