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VIDEO: Torrington man, 82, gains English GCSE

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: May 17, 2013

By Nicole Travers-Wakeford

EXAM STUDENT: Eric Smith.   Picture: Mike Southon. To order call 0844 4060 269 and quote Ref:  BNMS20130513B-004_C

EXAM STUDENT: Eric Smith. Picture: Mike Southon. To order call 0844 4060 269 and quote Ref: BNMS20130513B-004_C

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AN octogenarian from Torrington has been busy putting pen to paper to gain his English GCSE.

Eric Smith, 82, decided to take a course at the Bideford Arts Centre as a way to meet new people and make friends.

Since gaining his qualification, Eric has taken up creative writing and recites his own poetry to people at All Saints Church in Merton.

Eric has always enjoyed English and writing and is keen to continue.

He said: "It all started when I retired around six years ago. I didn't want to vegetate.

"I always liked English. I enjoyed it so much, I passed level one and went on to level two. I thought I may as well go the whole hog and do my GCSE. I passed with flying colours."

Eric continues to go to classes run by the Devon County Council's Adult and Community Learning Service at the Bideford Arts Centre.

Using his conservatory as his work space, Eric spends many hours jotting down ideas for his next poem.

He said: "I am into poetry. I love to lock myself away in my conservatory and dream up poems. It's a way to express myself.

"I get a great dealing of satisfaction. It makes me feel younger. I do my shopping and housework, so English keeps my mind active."

As a result of gaining his English GCSE, Eric has won South West Senior Learner Award.

Gill Pate from Devon Adult and Community Learning nominated Eric for the award which coincides with Adult Learners' Week.

Gill said: "At 82, he is now engaged and active in the community.

"He feels energised, fit and healthy, continuing to travel a distance to weekly classes, as well as readings."

David Hughes, chief executive of the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE), said: "Each and every year during Adult Learners' Week we are reminded, by all the award winners' stories, just how much people can improve their lives through learning.

"It helps them become more involved in their communities and often gives them a brighter future to look forward to."

Eric is looking forward to attending the awards ceremony at Sandy Park in Exeter on Thursday, May 23.

He said: "I would like to thank all the people who helped me along the way as well as everyone who listens to my poetry classes."

Eric has some words of encouragement for anyone wanting to take up adult learning classes.

He said: "Give it a try. The first I went to my English class I was very nervous. I didn't think I would be any good.

"I am 82 years old. If I can do it, why can't anyone else?"

To see a video of Eric reciting one of his poems visit our website www.northdevon journal.co.uk

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