Having left school with no qualifications, enduring much of her adulthood trapped in a cycle of drug addiction, and then tragically losing her husband to a car accident, the future had looked bleak for Andrea Horrocks.
To say that she has since been on a journey of personal growth would be something of an understatement.
In 2019 and aged 51, following the sad death of her husband, Andrea decided it was time to make some changes and began attending adult community courses with Lancashire Adult Learning (LAL). Her ambition was to gain knowledge, skills, and certificates, so she could fulfil a role as a volunteer within the community.
Over the next three years, Andrea’s learning expedition with LAL saw her obtain qualifications in Money Management, Basic Life Support, Emergency Paediatric First Aid, Basic Awareness of Food Safety, Essential Digital Skills, Mentorship, and more.
As if this string of qualifications wasn’t impressive enough, Andrea went even further and in 2020 – in the midst of the pandemic – became the Founder and Director of WatchUSgrow, a charitable organisation and outreach hub based in Chorley.
Such has been the success of WatchUSgrow, Andrea has recently received approval to open her own Recovery House in the town, offering support services for adults as they recover from addiction.
Her stunning efforts were rightly commended at the recent Lancashire Adult Learning annual awards ceremony where she was crowned ‘Community Star & Overall Learner of the Year.
On a whirlwind three years, Andrea said: “The first certificate I ever received in my life was as an adult learner in 2019 with Lancashire Adult Learning, at the age of 51! It proves that it’s never too late to do something meaningful with your life.
“The Recovery House has been my ultimate aspiration and achievement. I was so thrilled to get the approval and it’s now fully established with three residents currently receiving support.
“I’m also aiming to set up another Recovery House, so watch this space!”
Among its role within the community, WatchUSgrow is now an Outreach Service for Chorley Hospital, where Andrea visits people before their discharge.
She also visits schools and colleges to share her story and continues to support the local community in various ways via the community hub and through training, events, and new projects.
On LAL’s involvement in her remarkable turnaround, Andrea added: “I have learnt to believe in myself and that I can do anything I want if I put my mind to it.
“I have achieved goals I never thought possible as a recovered addict. It’s been an amazing personal journey from my recovery through to being able to support others.
“LAL’s courses have helped me personally as well as helping to develop my role as Founder and Director at WatchUSgrow. I’m now even co-ordinating regular LAL course delivery myself at the community hub to support others who are on their own recovery journeys.
“The courses make a huge difference in building confidence, resilience, and in supporting the mental health of myself and those I support. “I would just like to say a big thank you to LAL for their on-going support in providing training for adults within local community settings. The work they do is quite incredible.”