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Local graduate nominated for Positivity Award

A graduate from the Hugh Baird University Centre has been nominated for an award after turning harrowing life experiences into a positive career. Sheila Byrne, who is Co-founder of mental health support charity, Hope Street, has been nominated for The Triumph Award, as part of The Positivity Awards 2018.

The Positivity Awards are aimed at showing gratitude to the talented people and businesses that make every day a little bit happier and the Triumph Award will be given to someone who deserves to get recognition for their work. Sheila was nominated for her determination and positivity throughout her journey of recovery from her own mental health issues.

In 2016, following a number of traumatic experiences both in childhood and as an adult, Sheila had a nervous breakdown. Left with severe anxiety, depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, she became isolated from the outside world, including her parents, children and grandchildren. She was part way through studying towards a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)* at the time, but the breakdown meant she could no longer do anything for herself and she was reliant on her husband to do everything from cooking to even bathing her.

Sheila explained:

I refused to let it win and eventually completed a Master’s Course in Personal Development through the International Coaching Academy. The course helped me to be around people again and to leave the house unaided. Twelve months after having the breakdown, my sheer determination drove me to return to my PGCE at the Hugh Baird University Centre and my experiences led me to establish Hope Street.

Once Sheila was achieving positive results from her PGCE assignments, her anxiety and confidence in herself grew. She graduated this year from the Hugh Baird University Centre as a fully qualified teacher, something she never imagined three years ago. She had turned a deeply negative situation into a positive one and she decided to set up her own mental health charity to support other sufferers and their families.

Sheila added:

The charity is dedicated to educating others on how to manage their mental health more effectively and providing support, validation and hope for those who suffer from poor mental health. We want to help create a community where people feel it is OK to say they don’t feel OK.

As part of Hope Street, Sheila has been invited into schools to discuss mental health and also participated in Hugh Baird College’s Open Day for the Independent Living Department.

Sheila said:

This is the start of my new journey beyond Hugh Baird and I wanted to share my story so that other students know you can be in a dark place but come out the other side to be successful. I believe this was meant to happen to me so I would become successful. Like some of the students at Hugh Baird College, I was raised in Walton and lived in poverty. I had a traumatic childhood, yet it has not stopped me from aspiring to a bright, successful future. If I can do it, so can they.

The Positivity Awards 2018 will take place on 21st September 2018 and there’s still time to vote for Sheila. Read more about her story and cast your vote at

The Post Graduate Certificate in Education delivered at the Hugh Baird University Centre is validated by the University of Central Lancashire. If you would like to find out more about studying to become a teacher, or about the range of higher education courses offered at the Hugh Baird University Centre, visit or call 0151 353 4444.

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