North Suffolk teenager is raring to go

teenager Kim Satchell has overcome the odds to win a regional award.

Kim, 17, from Covehithe, beat off fierce competition from more than 2,000 students across Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex and Cambridge-shire to be one of just three winners of the Youth East Outstanding Learner award.

What makes it even more remarkable is that, just five years ago, she suffered major problems that led to her being withdrawn from her schooling. This led to a confidence crisis and bouts of depression that only improved last year when she undertook a training programme with U-Phorm, a vocational training provider to the sports and fitness industries that offers quali-fications and focuses on 14 to 19-year-olds who are at risk of being classed as NEET: not in education, employment or training.

Her tutor, Steve Elliott, a U-Phorm trainer based at Felix-stowe, first met Kim last June. 'I worked with Kim through U-Phorm and learnt how she was forced out of school, was fearful in a school environment and eventually stopped going to school due to bullying when she was 12,' he said.

Kim was home-tutored and learned progressively through that but also had to cope with family problems that led to her becoming depressed, he added. She suffered from a lack of confidence and was obese.

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'She needed life coaching, basically getting her on her feet again and enjoying her 17th year in a positive manner, so we started a nutritional-based fitness course and she hasn't looked back since then,' he said.

As part of the course she underwent five to 20 hours a week of training, which was spent with her U-Phorm tutor, but efforts in her own time meant she was soon progressing.

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'She lost two stone in three months through fitness programmes, muscle tone and diet,' Mr Elliott said. 'This was a massive breakthrough for her confidence, which led to her gaining a Level One qualification with us, and this led to her position now at The Yard project in Lowestoft.'

Working with The Yard team, Kim – the only girl currently on her chosen mechanics' project – is now roaring to success.

'I'm working with them, building a 2CV racing car from scratch, and we're hoping to get it to Snetterton for racing in August to compete in the Citroen 2CV 24-hour race,' she said.

Now, Kim is working three days a week and putting in more of her own time at The Yard as she aims first to get the car revving along from scrap, to get a full apprenticeship and her eventual aim of wanting to be a combat medical technician in the army.

'Kim has turned into a whole leader now. For her it is not just a course: she has got involved out of hours and gained more qualifications,' Mr Elliott added. 'The overall goal for Kim is to join the army, and we're working through a fitness programme with her to allow her to join the TA (Territorial Army), which, hopefully, leads to the army in a few years.'

So, how much of a journey has it been for Kim? 'To have her get to where she is today is fantastic,' said Mr Elliott. 'When I first met Kim she was very self-conscious and struggled to look in your eyes and even go outside. Now, she is a completely different person, and in the space of 10 months through this fitness programme there has been a completely mental and physical progression and positive thinking towards life.'

Lowestoft College controls the administration process for U-Phorm, and there was a special treat and presentation for her. Having been just one of 10 learners from 2,400 students on the Youth East programme across the region who qualified to be nominated for an award and initially made it through to the final list, Kim earned her prizes through effort, determination and achievement. She won a laptop computer and a free three-course meal for herself, her mum Lynn and brother Scott, and tutor Mr Elliott.

'She has excelled and triumphed in all the education provision in the whole of East Anglia – those involved in Youth East scheme who are aged 16 to 19 years old,' Mr Elliott said.

Praising her tutor's support, Kim said: 'I would like to thank Steve for all his hard work.'

And her mum Lynn told The Journal: 'I'm very proud as Kim has done so well. Steve is like part of the family, and we thank him for all his help.'

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