“So you learn, you learn every day different things and skills… No, no, you don’t stop learning.”
You’d be hard pressed to meet a more colourful character than Tom. Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do, mural painter and even cake decorator, his experiences over the years have been many and varied. But underlying his life’s journey has been a constant struggle with literacy.
He was a Leading Hand at a manufacturing plant before his job was taken over by someone with basic skills that Tom simply didn’t have – the ability to read and write.
With the support of his wife, Tom was able to keep up to date with the newspapers and mail over the years, but the point came when Tom realised he needed to be able to do things for himself. Importantly, Tom’s wife made the decision his – he was the one who had to ring his local library and ask for help.
He knew it took a lot of courage to make that call, but from that point on, Tom hasn’t looked back.
With the continued support of his family Tom has been attending a literacy course at his local library for the past eight months. His one condition on starting the course was that they agree to start at the very beginning - Tom wanted to make sure he got the basics in order before anything else. This understanding of where he was deficient, and what was required has set the tone of his ongoing journey.
“You know you want to do something about it and that now is the time to do it. It doesn’t matter how old you are, or how young you are, but… once you’re started you get the confidence that you, y’know, that you can, and it builds up from that, it just builds up and builds up.”
Tom understands that the path to literacy is a long one. But he also knows that in a short amount of time, he’s already come a long way. In 1990 Tom had to break through six roofing tiles to gain his Black Belt.
He clearly knows a thing or two about working hard to achieve a goal.
“Well, in the future I’ll be able to just read – pick up a magazine or a book and just read it.”