Billingham man swaps houses for hospitals in new life-saving career
A Billingham man has turned his back on the world of construction to save lives as a paramedic.
Former joiner, Sean Griffiths, 31, is now encouraging others that it is never too late to go back to the classroom and change careers.
Several years ago, as an apprentice joiner working on building sites, Sean found himself bored and unfulfilled and was looking for a change.
But without academic qualifications he worried his options were limited.
Sean, who has just bought his first house, explained: "I’d always fancied working in the health sector but people I know who’d done that were at A* level in school, and I wasn’t.
"I struggled with science at school and thought that might stop me, but I went to an open day at Middlesbrough College and discovered there was a way.
"Now I’m in a new career and it’s changed my life."
Sean studied an Access to Health course at Middlesbrough College which prepared him for a degree at Teesside University, and having graduated in July last year he joined the North East Ambulance Service in September.
Now he works demanding shifts as a paramedic – responding to emergencies across Teesside.
He added: "I love my job now. As you’d expect its physically and mentally challenging as I’m responding to stressful situations all the time.
"I have to be prepared to face one issue, deal with it, and then race on to the next with a smile on my face.
"The satisfaction is immense though. A lot of people I help find themselves in really worrying circumstances and they tell me that just seeing my uniform makes them feel safer."
Sean is now encouraging others who feel unfulfilled at work to reconsider their options, no matter what their background.
He said: "Before I started I didn’t realise the options that are available.
"I couldn’t afford to give up work so I studied the Access course on top of my day job.
"It was hard as it’s the equivalent of two years of A Level study in nine months, but the tutors were flexible and the course really prepared me for university.
"What’s even better – the course fees are refunded if you complete a degree programme afterwards.
"Anyone who wants to make a change in their life should think about it."