Diving into a new career (from The Co-op blog)



Damar apprentice, Ellie Randall who is currently completing a legal services apprenticeship at The Co-op Legal Services, tells her story of travels, trials and tribulations and why she decided to enrol on an apprenticeship

Legal Services apprentice Ellie Randall has already done things most 17-year olds only dream of. We go deeper to find out that she just wants to help others whether that’s in the far reaches of the Philippines or her current bolthole in Bristol.

Swimming in the crystal blue waters of the Philippines surrounded by a kaleidoscope of weird and wonderful tropical fish was a typical day in the life of a ten-year old Ellie Randall.

At eight she’d moved to the South East Asian beauty spot from the UK with her mum and two sisters after the passing of her father. By the age of ten she’d already gained her Advanced Open Water qualification and was hooked on exploring the underwater delights of the Pacific Ocean.

It would be her fascination with fish that sparked her interest in studying Marine Law when she returned to the UK at 13. Her time in the Philippines, and her mum’s commitment to community development work in some of its poorest areas, also inspired her to follow her dreams of helping others.

“I went to quite a sophisticated school. It opened my mind. I was ten and already doing GCSE work. It was a Catholic school and it did teach me moral values. My mum founded a company out there called ‘Heart of the Father’ so from a young age me and my two sisters worked in the slums of Payatas and Tondo helping people. We used to build libraries and we also built a youth centre, which I painted.”

Where there’s a will

Being back in the UK was at first a struggle for Ellie but she knuckled down and focused on getting her A-levels in Biology, Chemistry, Geography and Law at South Gloucestershire College. “Originally I thought Law would be boring but I absolutely loved it and it was definitely my favourite subject – I excelled at it,” she explains.

Her trips to court as part of the course also fired up her enthusiasm for the subject. “We watched an Actual Bodily Harm (ABH) case and it did make me want to become a barrister because I’d love to defend people who feel they’ve had wrongdoings done to them.”

But Ellie faced a setback when the night before her first A-level exam she was told she could be facing a serious illness. “I was in and out of hospital,” says Ellie. “I did well in the course work but couldn’t cope with the exams.”

Luckily her health scare was just that and Ellie could get on with her life again. After being rejected for work experience by a number of law firms, she was offered the apprenticeship scheme at Co-op Legal Services.

“This place was by far the best opportunity,” says Ellie. My mum was really into it because she loves the Co-op! That’s where my career started. This job has helped settled me,” she admits.

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