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Kierran James- Life Change and Progression Award Winner (joint winner)
Nominated by:  Cardiff & Vale College

Seven years later, after mental health issues and family health scares, he’s just achieved a first-class Honours degree in BSc Aircraft Maintenance with a promising future in aeronautical engineering.

Without the support and purpose Kierran received while serving in the Army, his mental health suffered, and he was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. After years jumping from job to job, he had no direction. The 28-year-old said: “The Army was all I’d ever known. A lot of my family members were in the Army and I’d always pictured myself working my way up. It’s a way of life and like a family so to have that suddenly taken away from you really messes with your head. Life afterwards was bleak, I had lots of jobs in pubs which I couldn’t hold down which led me to drinking too much and I just spiralled.”

Kierran found hope when he met his partner, Samantha, she provided the support he needed, “I had always associated learning with the tough time I had in school after my father died,” said Kierran, who was just 12 at the time.

“I knew if I wanted to restart my career prospects I needed to get the qualifications. Within the Army I was training to be a UAV drone pilot and have always had a passion for the aviation industry, so I decided to apply for the ‘A’ Licence course at Cardiff and Vale College. This course gave me purpose.”

Kierran jumpstarted his learning journey and after completing his Level 3 in A Licence modules he went on to study a degree in aircraft maintenance.

Whilst on the course, he was diagnosed with dyslexia which hadn’t been picked up at school.

“I had always felt like it was an upward struggle at school but after understanding why I struggled and making small changes like printing work out on yellow paper allowed me to keep up with the class.”

Kierran has since spoken at careers fairs, taken on the role as team leader on group projects and secured the first ever internship at aircraft maintenance and training company, Caerdav - famously run by Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson.

“Bruce was talking at a conference and I just asked him outright for some work experience - if you had told me that five years ago, I would have laughed!

He said: “There is support out there and I would encourage people to share their problems and also their goals as people will help you find a way through.”