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Return to Education: Veronica’s Story


In 2019, renowned Irish filmmaker Ken Wardrop introduced us to a truly inspiring woman. At the age of 62, Veronica Poole from Coolock in Dublin made the decision to return to education, learning to read and write with the help of NALA (the National Adult Literacy Agency). 12 weeks after returning to school, Veronica wrote a moving speech, which she gave while presenting an award at the 2019 An Post Irish Book Awards; a truly incredible achievement to watch

Ken recalls first meeting Veronica at the Coolock ETB. “We had to find someone who’d be capable of writing a speech, then going up on stage in front of a national audience and delivering it”, he explains. “I spent several days meeting lots of lovely students. But when Veronica came in, she had this little spark. She has such great energy, and a wonderful attitude to life. I knew she could do this!”

A single mother to her devoted son Lar, Veronica left school aged 12 to start working. It was Lar in fact, who encouraged her to go to NALA. “He was instrumental in her going back”, Ken notes. “Without his support, she wouldn’t have done it.” Like many people from her generation, it was merely Veronica’s circumstances that prevented her achieving her full potential, until now. “She’s a highly intelligent, competent lady who just never had the opportunities other people were afforded. Lar spotted that, and decided it was her time to shine.”

Veronica is still very much on this incredible journey, as you’ll see in Ken’s follow-up short (below). As well as studying English and Maths at Coláiste Dhúlaigh, she’s taking a creative writing class, with the hope of one day writing her own memoir. Of course, with Covid restrictions in place, classes are taking place virtually, so – like many of us – Veronica is having to get used to Zoom! NALA have adapted too and are continuing to support adult learners in an online capacity. “NALA’s tutors are amazing”, says Ken. “I’m in awe of what they do." Remember, it’s never too late to learn to read and write.

Find out more about NALA’s services and keep sharing your reading recommendations with us across online on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #ReadersWanted.