Billy overcomes hurdles to success

Picture of success: Billy Madgwick has now achieved his longtime goal of joining the army. Photo by Contributed

Former Strathmerton local, Billy Madgwick, was back home over the Christmas break spending some time with his family.

He is in the army and is currently posted to East Melbourne after stints at Kapooka, Puckapunyal and Townsville over the past two years.

Billy’s journey to being accepted into the army is a story of persistence, single-mindedness and the mental strength to ignore the people who doubted his capabilities.

He set himself a goal of joining the army when he was in Grade 5 at Strathmerton Primary School.

At that time Billy’s literacy and numeracy results were extremely low.

“I knew what I wanted to say but I just couldn’t put it down on paper,” he then said.

Billy knew his shortcomings in literacy and numeracy and so did everyone else in the classroom.

A situation like this can lead to further difficulties for a student at any level at school.

Teasing from others, feelings of inadequacy, frustration, difficulties forming positive relationships and a resentment towards school are just a few.

Billy, however, developed a strong mental attitude.

He kept on working as hard as he could at school, maintained his focus on his goal and developed some excellent characteristics that would help him to cope with difficult situations.

He still maintains that he enjoyed school and has no resentment towards any teachers, saying that “if you treat them well they treat you well.”

Billy had some physical confrontations at school which he just puts down to “kids stuff” and holds no grudges towards other students who may have ridiculed him at school.

Billy’s positive attitude to this period of his life is to be admired.

He turned a difficult situation, academically, into an opportunity to build strength in his character, an attitude of not blaming others and a sense of appreciation for those who have helped him.

A big break came Billy’s way when Cobram Secondary College arranged for Billy to attend Cobram Community Centre to help him with his literacy and numeracy skills after Year 10.

The fact that Billy attended Cobram Community Centre with “four or five” other kids, about his age, really helped him to better understand basic English skills.

Having students in that class with similar issues as himself helped him build his confidence.

He was also able to gain some recognition by earning certificates for responsible service of alcohol and safe handling of food.

On leaving school, Billy was employed at Murray’s Free Range Piggery for four years.

While Billy enjoyed his employment he still pursued a position in the army and was finally accepted and is now enjoying his life as a Private in the army.

Billy’s “hurdles” are like many kids in school.

Lower levels of academic achievement, the associated social issues this can present and a tough upbringing can lead to low self -esteem, anxiety and antisocial behaviour.

Billy is a survivor and a good news story that Strathmerton locals would be pleased to hear.

But more than that, he is an example of how your attitude and life skills are characteristics that are going to get you where you want to be.

Trevor Mills, leading teacher at Strathmerton Primary School