It all started when I was told by a colleague at The Beatles Story that a course from Liverpool Hope University was going to be offered to staff which was ‘right up my street’.
I had a think about it as my confidence was not great and I’d never been in higher education but after some persuasion I finally attended an interview. I then realised what it could do to enhance my knowledge of music and The Beatles.
When I was a teenager, the likes of OMD, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Echo and the Bunnymen were hitting the headlines weekly with hit after hit. I never thought I’d be studying them as part of Culture and history!
I remember attending the first class at the Shaw Street Campus with my lecturer Dr Mike Brocken, who has since become a good friend and mentor. He oozes enthusiasm which cannot but help rub off on you. I struggled through the first year with lots of tears thinking that my academic work was hopeless but Mike kept me going. Gradually the penny started to drop!
I somehow ended my first year with a Merit, but it helped at the fact that much of the topics coincided with my guiding knowledge. This really helped to build my confidence.
I went back for the second year and the work became more intense, but I started to cope better. I also spoke and took advice from fellow students which helped me plough through the rest of the year. I was chuffed I had gotten this far but I had no intention of attempting the final dissertation.
It was Mike that twisted my arm so I spent one afternoon in his ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ of an office and we decided on the subject which would also enhance my future tour guide work.
I stuck to it and within 4 months had finished and achieved the biggest accolade I’d ever received. I was so chuffed that all my hard work had paid off. I was physically drained and my house was a mess. I waited around a month for my final mark and I climbed the walls, hounding Mike with emails every other day.
I finally got the email around 4pm that I had passed with a Merit and I've never felt such relief and happiness in my life.
First stop was to ring my dad and then my brother who were really happy for me. I had became only the second qualified Beatles tour guide in the country to have an MA in the Beatles, after my good friend Phil Coppell.
My journey finished on the 25th January 2015 at Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral. It was freezing but it was an unforgettable day, I’d done it!! I had my photo’s done outside my work place as I was the first Beatles Story employee to achieve the full qualification through the partnership with Liverpool Hope University. Looking back now, I’m so grateful to the people who pushed me and believed in me because it has changed my life so much for the better and all I'm going to say is… Unless you try, you will never know!