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Press release

  • 27 May 2005
  • Love of learning makes Robert a community champion

    Robert Brown, Adult Learner of the Year 2005

    Robert Brown, Adult Learner of the Year 2005

    On Robert Brown's first day at secondary school, he was told: "Well, someone has to sweep the streets and clean the toilets."

    It wasn't the most encouraging introduction to education for Robert who, despite the challenges of physical disability and dyslexia, has won an Adult Learner of the Year award.

    Robert took up adult education to improve his literacy, but had soon accrued four GCSEs, one AS-level and one A-level at Brighton Technical College.

    During his studies he visited an art gallery for the first time and was so struck by the experience he took up a tutor's suggestion and took some short art history courses at the Centre for Continuing Education (CCE) at the University of Sussex. This led to certificate courses in subjects as diverse as biblical studies and voluntary sector management. He is now well placed to complete a full degree course, as well as helping others in his local community.

    In recognition of his achievement Robert, along with other students from Brighton and Hove, will be presented with an Adult Learner of the Year award by Brighton and Hove Mayor Bob Carden at a ceremony at the Jubilee Library on Thursday 26 May, as part of Adult Learners Week (21-27 May).

    Robert, 51, a voluntary worker and health campaigner from Lower Bevendean, has been studying with CCE for the past ten years. He is now taking a certificate in Creative Writing. He has also learned to share the skills and confidence he has developed with others, acting as a volunteer for people with learning disabilities and as a representative for tenants in his neighbourhood. He also serves as the chair of the local community forum and is a church warden.

    Robert's tutor Jackie Parry, who nominated him for the Brighton and Hove Council-sponsored award, says: "Robert has overcome many personal disadvantages and has demonstrated a real will to learn. He helps others who are in difficult positions and is an example to other students."

    Robert says: "Learning has been the greatest gift that anybody could have given me. I have done things I would never have done before. At school, being told you are thick and stupid, you tend to believe it. Everybody should have the opportunity to excel and improve themselves. It has been a privilege to find I have skills not only to help myself, but others too."

    To help others like Robert explore their undiscovered potential, CCE is offering a series of "taster sessions" on 11 and 18 June, where people can try out different subjects at the University. Sessions include creative writing, local history and landscape studies, media and cultural studies, women's studies, global climate change, arts management.

    The Centre for Continuing Education is Sussex's leading specialist in part-time university education, designed for adults with work or other commitments.


    Notes for editors 

    For further information and photo, call Angela Van Dyck on 01273 678465.

    For details on taster courses available at CCE, see:


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