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Helena Gadsby smiles at the camera.

News story

Trainee teacher who came close to death pursues passion for children’s learning 

June 5, 2024

A mum of two children and two stepchildren who survived a medical emergency to pursue her dream career, has been awarded an Edge Hill University Excellence Scholarship. 

Helena Gadsby, a year two student studying BA Hons in Primary Education with QTS suffered a cardiac arrest just days after giving birth to her son, who is now two years eight months old. It was touch and go whether she would survive.  

In addition to the initial trauma, Helena suffered memory loss and had to undergo surgery to fit a defibrillator. She is also having tests for other medical issues. 

Despite all her health concerns and everyday parenting challenges, Helena has remained focused on her goal of educating and helping children. 

For Helena, her scholarship win is more than just a career-boosting accolade:

“It helps show my children that you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it.” 

Alongside her degree, she has become the Faculty of Education’s Reading for Pleasure (RfP) student ambassador – to promote, inspire and support student teachers to widen their knowledge of children’s texts and to encourage a love of reading during school placements. 

Helena, from Preston, has also launched a community book club for children, completed courses in children’s mental health and counselling and worked as an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) ambassador at Edge Hill. 

She is full of praise for the support Edge Hill has offered during challenging times:

“The University has been so fantastic and understanding, going above and beyond with support. 

“I’ve had so many opportunities here. After being a nursery nurse for 13 years, this degree is helping towards my next chapter. 

“I’ve gone from the Early Years Foundation Stage to the National Curriculum which is completely different and I’ve had the opportunity to take on a number of placements which have given me hands-on experience of teaching in a real-life setting. 

“I’ve been lucky enough to make some amazing friends and have a fantastic support network of staff. 

“Thanks to this, I’m on my way to becoming a primary school teacher. I would love to be a PSHE (personal, social, health and economic education) lead when I graduate because I understand first-hand the importance of health and wellbeing.” 

Excellence Scholarships are awarded to students who demonstrate determination, commitment and achievement outside their studies. We have a broad programme of scholarships for prospective and current students, recognising practical and academic excellence. 

Edge Hill’s Faculty of Education, which was recently graded outstanding by Ofsted for its initial teacher education, offers a variety of degrees and courses at undergraduate and postgraduate level, from early years to further education. 

June 5, 2024


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