“Gypsy children don’t go to university, that’s for other people. But I never felt like a conventional Gypsy child, I knew I had something else about me.”
Billy left school aged 13 with no qualifications, then worked as a door-to-door salesman and taught himself to read. He realised at this point that something was wrong, though he wasn’t sure what. It wasn’t until he enrolled on an Access to Art and Design course at Cambridge Regional College, at the age of 23, that his severe dyslexia was diagnosed.
When he started the course, he struggled to read and write, but his determination saw him pass two of the three units on the course. This allowed Billy to complete a Diploma of Foundation Studies the following year and gain a place at the University of the Arts London, Chelsea, where he later gained a first-class honours degree in Fine Art – Sculpture.
Billy now lectures at Cambridge Regional College, as well as continuing his arts practice with a studio in London. “I have turned my life around. I feel that I am living my dreams,” said Billy. He continued, “It wasn’t easy leaving the family home, but now my family are very proud of me and all that I have achieved. I feel I can share this with others who may feel that their dreams to study are beyond them. I am living proof that it is not.” Billy hopes to continue his learning with a Masters in Sculpture and even dreams of completing a PhD.