Adult Learners' Week: Richard's Story


20.06.2018

Throughout this week (June 19th – 25th), the achievements of Adult Learners across Wales will be celebrated during the annual Adult Learners’ Week.  To coincide with the Learning and Work Institute’s Festival of Learning, the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) is celebrating its adult learners by sharing their stories.

Richard Thomas

With 61% of UWTSD’s undergraduate students classed as mature, the University provides a strong and supportive community of adult learners across each of campuses – in Carmarthen, Swansea and Lampeter.

Richard Thomas, a single father of three, graduated last summer with a degree in Sports Therapy. He recently spoke to UWTSD about his transformational journey from gardener to Sports Therapist:

“In the summer of 2014 I was working as a Gardener and handyman in the quiet village of Bancyfelin.  I didn't see it as a long term career and with three children and no partner, I felt I needed a better career direction so I started to look at returning to education.  

“In the summer of 2014 I was working as a Gardener and handyman in the quiet village of Bancyfelin.  I didn't see it as a long term career and with three children and no partner, I felt I needed a better career direction so I started to look at returning to education.  After realising that UWTSD offered a degree in Sports Therapy I decided this was the area that I really wanted to learn more about.

“I immediately loved the course description - having been passionate about sport, fitness, Crossfit and having also had many sporting injuries in the past - I felt that this course would be fascinating to follow. Because of my family commitments, I wasn’t able to travel long distances to study so the fact that the Sports Therapy course was available to me in Carmarthen was great too! I had no idea of how I was going to work, study and juggle my boys' commitments too and I can’t deny that there were times during the course where I found it difficult – but those hard times were definitely worth it!

“Following this course has not only helped me to learn about a new profession and to embark on a new career that I’m very passionate about – it has also helped me grow as a person.  The course set me academic challenges as well as challenging me to manage my time and to fit in work, study and raising three boys as a single father.

“The course was full of work experiences and volunteer opportunities and by the end of the course, I felt prepared to face the world of work because of those opportunities. 

“This past year – the first year after graduation – has been tough but it would have been even more difficult if it hadn’t been for the experience and connections that I made during my time on the course.

Richard Thomas and Family

“During my studies, I was lucky enough to work with the Welsh Under 20's Rugby team; the Dragons; Cardiff Devils Ice Hockey; Swansea City FC as well as Bristol City FC - not forgetting the various events that we covered such as the Swansea Triathlon, The Burn, Invncbl and some epic Charity cycle rides.

“Since graduating, I’m really lucky that the list of organisations and events I’m working with continues to grow.  I now work with the FAW and the Under 15's Welsh Girls Football team; Whitland RFC and I have a role with Hockey Wales too.  I also work with Gower College Rugby, Llanelli and District Schoolboys Under 15's and the successful Rugby Sevens team, the Carmarthen Warriors.   Alongside this work I’ve been lucky enough to be part of a Hip and Groin Testing team – which I initially started doing during my time on the course - but I’m now also been working with Swansea City as part of their testing team as well as the IRFU as part of their ongoing Injury reduction strategies.

“I am currently still trying to manage my time but am enjoying the challenge.  Indeed, enrolling on this course was easily one of the best decisions of my life.  It’s helped me immeasurably - not just academically and career wise - but it’s also made a huge difference to me on a personal level.  I’ve met friends that I’ll have for life and I managed to complete a BSc degree - something that for many years would have felt impossible.

“I am the first person in my family in living knowledge to complete a degree and I'm not ashamed to say that I cried like a baby at my graduation ceremony.  Receiving an award for my academic work was probably one of the proudest moments of my life. The fact that I’ve achieved something that I previously didn't really believe I could, has helped me to raise my own expectations and has allowed me to really expanded my horizons – both career wise and personally.  It’s also had a great positive effect on my children - the eldest of whom is now going to University this year.

“The University’s School of Sport, Health and Outdoor Education has a strapline it uses – ‘Challenge by Choice.’ I took on a challenge not knowing if I would succeed and although it wasn't easy, the challenge was definitely worth it. 

“The Sports Therapy course was amazing and I can’t speak highly enough of the fantastic lecturers and support staff who helped me along the way.  I will be forever in their debt - long after my student loan is repaid. Thank you.”

As the only Sports Therapy degree in Wales accredited by the Society of Sports Therapy, the BSc Sports Therapy degree programme is designed to educate competent practitioners in all aspects of Sports Therapy. During their time on the course, students learn in a practical setting with plenty of hands on teaching in a dedicated Sports Therapy Suite and Rehabilitation Centre. All teaching staff are experienced Graduate Sports Therapists who have worked in professional, semi-professional, national and international sports over a number of years. 

If you’re interested in finding out more about the Sports Therapy degree offered at UWTSD, please visit https://www.uwtsd.ac.uk/bsc-sport-therapy/

For further details about returning to education, please visit https://www.uwtsd.ac.uk/return/

Further Information

For further information, please contact Sian-Elin Davies, Principal Communications and PR Officer on 01267 676908 / 07449 998476 sian-elin.davies@uwtsd.ac.uk