A MOTHER-OF-TWO has urged low-paid women to chase their dreams - as she prepared to take up a place at university.
Amy Ward, from Hartlepool, has previously worked in a job in town where the pay was less than the living wage.
She was eventually made redundant and got another job with better pay, but she then quit that so that she could return to education.
It’s been a journey of discovery for Amy which could eventually lead to the Dyke House area resident becoming a chartered accountant.
Now, her message to other women is: “Find a goal and stick with it. Go and see a careers adviser or student services.”
The 28-year-old said it was “hardly surprising” when she heard Hartlepool had the worst record in the region for women working part-time and earning less than the living wage.
Through all of her journey, the Hartlepool mum has kept one deciding factor at the forefront of her mind. “I am doing it for my children”, she said.
Now, after studying GCSEs in maths and English as well as a diploma in accountancy at Hartlepool College of Further Education, she has passed the lot - at higher grades than when she took her GCSEs 12 years ago.
Amy, who is mum to Dylan, five, and Amelia, three, said: “I wanted my children to understand that, to achieve what you want to achieve, you have to work for it”.
She first sat her GCSEs at Leytonstone Secondary School in London after her family left Hartlepool for the Capital when she was a child.
Amy said: “I got Ds across the board. I could not be bothered and I thought I knew the world”.
She returned to the North-East when she was 22 and became a customer services agent for a call centre. She said: “I thought to myself ‘I can do better than this’. I did not want to turn 30 doing that.
“I handed in my resignation, walked into the college and took an accountancy level 2 AAT course.
“If someone had told me ten years ago that I would have been doing this, I would have laughed at them”.
But Amy is not stopping there. She applied to both Teesside and Durham universities to do degree courses and was accepted by both. She has chosen to study finance and accounts at Durham’s Stockton campus.
Looking back on her success, she said: “It has been overwhelming. I didn’t think I would be able to do it but I have done it with two children.
“There have been times when I have felt like throwing the towel in but I thought to myself ‘keep going’”.
Amy has arranged childcare for her children. Amelia also attends Footprints Nursery and Dylan is at Sacred Heart Primary School in Hartlepool.
Amy’s hope, after she finishes her degree, is to move on to a two-year specialist ACCA course which is the body which represents chartered accountants.
“Eventually, I want to become a chartered accountant. I am really good with numbers and I enjoy doing this.
“My drive is my children”.