Student battles through illness

PLUCKY Gayle Curtis conquered a debilitating disease to record exam success.The Copleston student was struck down by myalgic encephalomyelitis – usually known as ME – when she was just 12.

PLUCKY Gayle Curtis conquered a debilitating disease to record exam success.

The Copleston student was struck down by myalgic encephalomyelitis – usually known as ME – when she was just 12.

But despite enduring long periods off school due to illness and exhaustion, the 19-year-old is looking forward to starting a degree in the autumn.

She said: "I couldn't imagine being where I am now a few years ago. I was over the moon when I got my results.

"I couldn't believe it and just went all quiet – it didn't really sink in until I got home.

"I rang my mum and she was just screaming at me down the phone. My dad congratulated me as well, but he was a bit more under control."

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Gayle described her school years as "more off than on," but she was always determined to stay on at school to fulfil her long-term ambition of working with children.

And Gayle's gritty hard work paid off when she opened the envelope yesterday morning. She got a double A for her advanced vocational certificate in health and social care and another A in AS-level psychology.

Now she is set to start a degree at Suffolk College in childhood studies with psychology.

Her joy yesterday was a far cry from the depths of despair she suffered before being diagnosed.

She said: "I started getting ill in year 8 and was missing a lot of school. I was tested for glandular fever two or three times, but ME wasn't diagnosed until I was in year 10.

"I was upset at first, because there's no cure. But it was a good thing because it meant I could start getting better."

Aided by a supportive school and understanding teachers – alongside a summer tutor – Gayle was able to complete GCSEs in maths, English language and English literature.

Her first year in sixth form was spent studying an intermediate GNVQ, but she decided to start all over again because she found it too easy.

She said: "I've always been very ambitious and determined to do my best, so when I was well enough I really worked hard.

"I'm a lot better now so I hope I can take it on to university and I really want to work with children in the future."

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