Back to The Learning Disability and Autism Leaders’ List 2018

Our Winner: Ursula Shepherd

Category: Work and education

Ursula is one of the most warm and friendly people you could ever meet. She lights up a room.

Learning to read aged 89

When Ursula was a child she had to leave school because her learning disabilities made her time there very difficult. She grew up relying on other people to read for her. But – at 89 years old – she’s decided to change that.

“For the last year or so, Ursula has been learning to read. Despite having learning disabilities and being almost 90 that hasn’t stopped her.”

Her story is so inspiring, and she’s such a charismatic person, that it isn’t surprising she’s been featured across the globe on the BBC, ITV and Sky News.

She’s achieving exactly what she wants to – to inspire others.

Although it’s a major challenge, letters from audiences have helped spur her on. She regularly reads to her Shared Lives carer, Lesley, and continues to take lessons with Learn Devon. Her goal? To read her own knitting patterns and romance novels.

Work and education LDA Leaders' List 2018

But at the moment she’s happy with the progress she’s making. Her confidence is growing; she’s reading to audiences and she can finally choose and order her own food off menus.

“At school she states that she sat at the back of the class and turned the pages of a book when she saw others doing so. Now she can read for herself.

“Ursula is one of the most warm and friendly people you could ever meet. She lights up a room.”

Ursula shows that it’s never too late to learn something new, and that there is always someone in the world who you can inspire.

Stop press

Ursula is one of 2018’s Leaders to be featured in The Guardian – read her interview on their website.

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