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Case Study

William Preston

Sunderland, UK

MA Radio, Audio and Podcasting


William Preston is studying for an MA in Radio, Audio and Podcasting. A combination of determination, self-belief, and the right support has brought him to where he wants to be in his life.

We were an ordinary working class family, but my dad was a drug addict and my mother was an alcoholic. I was 15 when I decided I couldn’t live with my mam anymore. I ended up going into care and it was the best thing I could have done at the time. Basically everyone at school had given up on me, and I realised that there was a very real danger that I would end up like my dad.

When I was in the care home they asked me what I wanted to do, and I told them I wanted to go to university – and they laughed, they thought I was joking. I struggled through the first year of college, but one of the teachers there saw my potential and she fought for me to stay. She pushed me. At the start of my course no one expected me to pass, and I ended up getting two Distinctions and a Merit.

I applied to go to University of Sunderland in the Foundation Year – but the lecturer on the Media Production degree rang up and said they wanted me to go straight into the first year of the degree.

I decided I needed some practical experience, so dropped a line to Pride Radio in Gateshead. I just thought it would be a 30 minute chat, but I ended up there the whole afternoon and before I knew it I was part of the team. I edit shows for both the FM and online stations, and now I’m editing multiple shows for them.

When I first got into university I told my dad, but he wasn’t happy about it at all. That was very difficult for me, and he never apologised. But if anyone tells me I’m never going to do something I’m going to come back tenfold and do way better.

A couple of years ago I was a teenager no one wanted to be around. I was angry all the time, but now things just keep getting better. I've graduated even with Covid restricting what I was able to do and have even got into a long-term relationship with my amazing and supportive boyfriend Gary, and have gone on to do an MA in Radio, Audio and Podcasting.

If it wasn’t for the We Care Team at the University, I would have quit. I’ve had amazing help from the University, particularly three years ago when my dad died and again in the last two years with both of my granddads passing, they were there for me.

Anytime I’ve needed help they’re there. They have no idea how much they’ve helped me. It’s amazing to know that there’s someone there to help and support me, and who I can trust.”

Published 20 October 2020

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