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Nominated by: Cardiff and Vale College

Thomas Ferriday has achieved a Level 3 Brickwork Diploma and now works with Cardiff and Vale College as a technician in the Construction Department where he mentors new learners at the start of their journey.

Tom has come a long way, having spent years living with different family members due to problems at home, before moving into a bedsit on his own when he was 17. With little family support, he visited homelessness charity Llamau, who provided him with a support worker to help with sorting out his finances and day-to-day living skills. “I worked out that I needed £5 a day to buy food, pay bills and get myself to college,” he said. “I didn’t have much money, and there were days I barely had enough for lunch, but I kept going to college because I knew it would help me to get a job and have a brighter future.”

He’d left school with no GCSE’s, he was bullied and homelife was difficult. “I told myself from a young age that I was going to work hard and take every opportunity to get away from troubles and find something I loved. I tell the students the same thing.”

After school Tom tried a Painting and Decorating course, he said, “I didn’t do well on the course, but I knew I had lots to offer so I kept trying.” Watching motivational clips on YouTube gave him even more drive to do his best. He said, “There was a guy with severe disabilities who had done amazing things, he hadn’t let anything hold him back, and he was studying at university. I thought, there are so many people going through hardships. Many people have difficult stories, but they’ve changed their lives by learning.”

Thomas applied for 40 jobs and didn’t receive one interview, but he was determined to get into work, so he enrolled at Cardiff and Vale College on a Level 2 Brickwork Diploma.

Taking extra classes in Maths and English he progressed onto the Level 3 course. Now Thomas is hoping his skills will help him to achieve his ambition of travelling the world.

“I’d love to work on building projects in Africa,” he said. “I’ve saved some money and hope to plan something for later this year.”
Brickwork lecturer, Paul Sebburn who nominated Thomas said, “His work ethic was fantastic. From day one he wanted more work, he was never late, had 100% attendance, and always turned up to his lessons with a smile on his face. He’s worked so hard to get where he is and will be the first person to say he hasn’t found the academic study easy, but he’s persevered.”

Thomas added: “I’ve always struggled, but I’ve always been determined to do my best and do extra to achieve my goals. Working hard has given me so much.”