Adult learning’s just the ticket for ex traffic warden

PENSIONER Jim Fowler is spending his retirement becoming an expert in computers, criminals and coffins after discovering he could study for free in Gosport.

The 65-year-old former traffic warden and Sainsbury’s manager said he was bored and frustrated after more than a year of lockdown until his daughter Della told him about the Adult Community College’s free part-time courses at St Vincent College.

She suggested Mr Fowler, who lives in Gosport with wife Kath, enrol on a six-week forensics course at the college. And he said: “When I was a traffic warden I was based at the police station and I always took an interest in forensics so she thought I’d like it and I did, it was brilliant.”

Since then he has bolstered his knowledge by studying child psychology, word processing and computing and is now embarking on a course about the history of death and burial.

“This college is like my second home, the staff are brilliant and are so friendly, knowledgeable and encouraging,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it is all free because the courses are so well run and so informative.”

“The computing course was only supposed to be six weeks but Di Ellis who runs it is so good it is now in its 16th week. It’s just really nice being with the same people and learning along with them.”

Mrs Fowler also took the forensics course and has since studied woodworking and is now doing a criminology course.

“She finds it fascinating and really enjoyable,” said Mr Fowler. “The courses have really opened a window for us because it is fun to be learning at this time of our lives, we really appreciate it. It is also great to get out and meet people from different walks of life in the classroom.

“I’ll carry on doing courses as long as I can because it is great fun and I’d recommend it to anybody, I’d never have guessed that we’d be going back to the classroom in our retirement and enjoying it as much as we do.”

The Adult Community College is run at a separate part of the St Vincent College site with views over Portsmouth Harbour. It offers dozens of courses ranging from NVQs in care, IT, or business admin to lifestyle interest such as guitar, carpentry, photography.

The college also offers English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses for refugees to help support them into education and employment.

Tracey Strong, who runs the adult community college, said: “We are very fortunate to have access to various funding streams which allows us to fully fund most applicants who apply for one or more of our courses, whether this be a vocational or online qualification or a community learning course.

“We are really proud of the variety of our courses and for anyone who wants to get back into work, pursue a hobby or who just enjoys learning there is something there for them. We have a drop-in every Tuesday from 10am to noon for anyone who wants to come in and talk about a course.”

​The college is organising an open day on Wednesday, May 25, from 4 to 8pm, where staff will be on hand to discuss courses, costs, and availability. There will also be a chance to sample tasters of the courses on offer, refreshments, and entertainment for children.

Readers can find out more information by visiting stvincent.ac.uk/adult-education/adultcommunitycollege, emailing acc@stvincent.ac.uk or by calling 02392 603 606.

PICTURED: Former traffic warden and now serial studier Jim Fowler with his wife Kath at the Adult Community College, St Vincent College Gosport.