PENSIONER Mary Cox was an alcoholic with no qualifications but is turning her life around after an accident last year.

The incident gave Mary, from Bridgwater, the shock she needed to look at her lifestyle and she has now been sober for almost a year and has returned to education.

Mary’s recovery began when she went to a coffee evening organised by a drug and alcohol recovery charity at the community centre in Victoria Park.

She said: “I’d come off drink when I’d been taken to hospital in April after choking on a roast potato and I wanted to stay clean.

“A woman from an adult learning organisation came to talk to us about courses we could do.”

That woman was Bridgwater teacher Lesley Watson, who works with NCC Skills, a Government-funded programme to provide English and maths to adults, alongside other skills important to employers.

Mary said: “I said at 63 I’m too old to do a course but she was brilliant. She made me feel I wasn’t useless and just a pensioner housewife.

“Lesley treated me no differently from someone in her 20s. It’s like suddenly I was old enough to want to learn.”

Lesley said: “Mary’s an amazing woman. She’s overcome so much to get to where she is. That’s just the beginning of her journey. Like so many other adult learners, once they’ve overcome their initial lack of confidence and start to achieve, there’s no stopping them.”

With her confidence restored, Mary now feels she has a whole new lease of life and that she can do anything.

Mary added: “In a way, I owe everything to that roast potato. That’s why I was taken to hospital, and getting off the drink made me think differently about my life. Now learning’s given me self-respect.”