Helping young people to develop their own skills has always been an ambition for James.
Over the years, with global development delay, he has faced more than his fair share of challenges.
“Things like learning to walk and talk as a child, all took longer for me,” said the 22-year-old from Billingham.
Even everyday tasks, like learning to tie his shoelaces, took until his teenage years, and even then, he had to make an extra special effort.
Far from letting it hold him back, James has worked hard to keep achieving his goals, and has now successfully completed the Level 3 Diploma in Sports Coaching at Bede Sixth Form College.
What’s more, he got to complete his final year of study with his 18-year-old brother, Brendan, by his side.
“It feels pretty good,” said James, a former Abbey Hill School pupil, who first joined the college on a level 1 course.
“Back then I thought I would just do the one year, but then I got the opportunity to move on to the level 2, and then the level 3.”
His brother Brendan joined the college on the level 2 course, which coincidentally saw the pair ultimately end up in the same class and complete their studies together.
“It was coincidental,” said Brendan, a former pupil at Northfield School and Sports College.
“But it was nice to know that there was someone there if we were stuck at all and that we could support each other.”
For James, Bede offered the chance to achieve more than he ever expected. Over the years he has given his time carrying out work placements at a local holiday club, School’s Out Sport’s In, and even returning to Abbey Hill to work with children facing their own challenges.
It has all fed into his ambition which is to become a teaching assistant and support other young people.
While Brendan now plans to start work, James has secured an NHS Choices College Supported Internship, bringing with it the chance to further develop his academic, work and life skills.
He said: “My own teaching assistants have shown me the impact that you can have on people’s lives.
“It would be great to help a kid in my shoes, who finds things more difficult, to be able to pass a course, or to support them on their way to their dream job.”