Susan switches from soaring the skies as cabin crew to fighting fires with help from Lancashire Adult Learning

A mum from Whalley has switched her globetrotting job working as cabin crew to fighting fires in her home county after gaining a Functional Skills qualification with Lancashire Adult Learning.

Susan Bottomley, 45, worked for Virgin Atlantic for 22 years and then as a personal trainer before deciding to pursue a career change as a firefighter working for Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service.

However, when it came to realising the dream of the career change, Susan discovered that she did not have the necessary Maths qualification to progress in her application.

Susan got in touch with Lancashire Adult Learning and passed both her Level 1 and Level 2 Functional Skills Maths qualifications in quick succession, finding out she had passed the crucial Level 2 qualification on the morning of her interview.

Susan, who was named Lancashire Adult Learning’s 2018 Maths Star learner in the summer, started her new firefighting career in September and is now based at Preston Fire Station. She said: “I absolutely love my new job and the variety of work that comes with it – every day is different.

“It’s a massive change from what I was doing before – flying all over the world to exotic destinations which was wonderful. But it is something I had wanted to do for a long time, especially after becoming a mum, and I wanted a new challenge. When the opportunity came up, it was a ‘now or never’ moment.

“I quickly realised that I needed my Maths qualification and Maths was a subject I hated when I was at school. But from the first phone call to Lancashire Adult Learning, my experience was fantastic, and my teacher Christine was very good. I actually enjoyed learning because of the way lessons were taught – it was much more of a practical approach that I could relate to and easily understand.

“I’d absolutely recommend Lancashire Adult Learning’s courses to others. My experience made me realise that I do enjoy learning and I can pass an exam years after I left school. LAL has also helped me change the direction of my career and I’m incredibly happy in my new role.”

In 2017-18, Lancashire Adult Learning helped 96% of adults achieve their Level 2 Functional Skills English qualification and 94% adults on Level 2 Functional Skills Maths courses.

Andrea Cowton, Head of Curriculum for Maths, English and ESOL at Lancashire Adult Learning said: “Susan made very quick progress in achieving her Functional Skills Maths qualifications, and this was down to her hard work and positive attitude.

“She was also keen to encourage and support others in her group throughout the year and I know her enthusiasm for learning was appreciated by her teacher and she served as an inspiration to her peers.

“One of our priority functions is to support learners of all ages and backgrounds back in to employment or towards volunteering opportunities or further learning.

“Susan previously had a very successful career for more than 20 years working in the airline industry, and LAL also does a great deal of work with people already in employment or who have had established careers. We support people who wish to progress further up the employment ladder or change career and need to achieve valuable qualifications in order to do this.

“I’m thrilled that Susan has been able secure the change of career she wanted with the help of Lancashire Adult Learning.”

In February, Lancashire Adult Learning was named as the national Adult and Community Learning Provider of the Year winner at the Tes FE Awards.

As well as its targeted delivery and partnership work, Lancashire Adult Learning offers a huge range of planned provision across the Red Rose County, from Arts and Crafts to Humanities classes, Languages to Health and Wellbeing sessions and Functional Skills English and Maths and Employability courses.

For more information about LAL, contact 0333 003 1717 or visit

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