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Alan Addison

Alan Addison overcame previously undiagnosed dyslexia to study at the University and change his career from carpenter to literacy tutor.

Name Alan Addison
Degree English Literature
Year of graduation 1995
Alan Addison

At the moment  

I have been retired from a career in community learning and development in Edinburgh since 2014. I spend much of my time writing, cooking and walking in the local parks and through Leith, the place I live and love.

I also spend as much time as possible with our youngest son and his family in the Scottish Borders.

Your time at the University

Prior to starting university, I worked as a carpenter/joiner and had my own business. To enable me to qualify for university I studied at a community college. Being the first in my family to reach higher education (my family and ancestors were, on the whole, manual workers) it was a daunting task.

The urge to go to university was driven firstly by my love of literature and secondly my love of learning. It was a big step for myself and my wife and two sons for me to give up the business and to study, and it required much sacrifice. I put my heart and soul into my studies but due to having undiagnosed dyslexia, I found essays very difficult. I was fortunate that the staff of the University were very supportive and I was befriended by Professor Ronnie Jack, who continued to follow my progress once I’d graduated.

My interest in literature stemmed from a love of poetry when I was young and by meeting my role model when I was 15 years old - my uncle Bert Mackie was a writer and journalist and he encouraged me to go to night school to study English. Studying at the University of Edinburgh years later was one of the best things in my life. I learned from both staff and fellow undergraduates, despite being more than twenty years older than most students. The curriculum and the delivery opened my eyes to a world I didn’t know existed.

I put my heart and soul into my studies but due to having undiagnosed dyslexia, I found essays very difficult. I was fortunate that the staff of the University were very supportive.

Your experiences since leaving the University

After leaving university I trained to become an adult literacy tutor in Edinburgh. By then I had been diagnosed with dyslexia and learned that the dreadful condition existed in my family. This led to my becoming a family literacy tutor to enable me to impact on the education difficulties faced by families in areas of multiple deprivation. Whilst working in this field, I studied to become a Community Learning and Development Worker (through a postgraduate diploma) with a focus on family literacy.

During my time in this field I met some amazing and wonderful people who, against all odds, reached their full potential. I also studied to become a Practice Learning Tutor for the University of Edinburgh and was able to meet with and supervise university students studying for a degree in Community Learning. Before retiring I went on to become advisor to the Senior Education Manager with the City of Edinburgh Council.

My life experiences coupled with my studies at university have also led to my becoming a writer and author. Outside of my writing I enjoy family life, cultural studies, particularly people and behaviours, and love walking in nature, enjoy photography and cooking.

Life during Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has taught me much. Firstly and foremost it has taught me about the kindness of my neighbours and friends, and about the commitment many people are prepared to reach to help others. It has also sharpened my awareness to invisible dangers and helped me realise my depth of feeling for my family. My career goals have not changed but my behaviour certainly has in that my partner and I now cook and deliver food to our elderly, more vulnerable neighbours and are able to keep a watchful eye on them.

Alumni wisdom

I wish I had been able to see all the advantages that higher education can bring and had committed even more to my studies. I could have joined some of the many student groups on campus and enhanced my learning further. Quite possibly my family commitments and a distorted view of my mature age prevented me from doing so. I would not let that happen now.

Related links

English Literature