Indie rock and politics are the two public faces of Hertfordshire-born Billy Lunn. In between writing and recording a new album for his band The Subways, Billy is out and about in his adopted home town of Ware, meeting voters in preparation for next year’s town council elections. What Billy’s audiences and voters don’t see, though, is his passion for English literature and language. His heart is set on studying English or linguistics at university in two years’ time – quite a change from the highs of the last 10 years, playing Glastonbury and appearing on the David Letterman show in the US.
By his own admission, Billy hasn’t always been an academic high achiever: he left school at 16 with ‘very middling GCSEs’ and formed The Subways soon afterwards with his brother and then girlfriend. That’s all changed since he returned to learning in his mid ‘20s, convinced that he had missed out on education earlier in his life. First he took an access course at his local further education college and ‘absolutely loved it’. Just two years later, his work is of ‘A’ level standard, rapid progress he attributes to NEC.
There are often hours of travelling and waiting around with the band, time that Billy thought he could put to good use learning something new. He first heard about NEC through fellow Labour Party member Tony Dodds, who is also an NEC Trustee, and signed up for an AS level in English language and literature. The exams are in the summer and he plans to sit the ‘A’ level next year.
Billy says: ‘I realised straight away that NEC offered everything I was looking for – impressive course materials, structured feedback on assignments and a personal tutor. Distance learning is all about self-discipline. You have to put time into planning your learning and to want to be productive, but I’ve always prided myself on my organisation and determination. Studying and touring with the band has been hard work, but really rewarding.’
Learning is infectious, at least in Billy’s case. His wife is studying for a creative arts degree at the University of Hertfordshire. Friends and members of his family are so proud of what he’s achieved that some of them are thinking about doing a course themselves. For Billy, there’s plenty to look forward to: exams in May and a new album later this year and an election and ‘A’ levels next year.
If Billy’s story has inspired you to fit learning into your own life, you can find out more about NEC and the wide range of flexible distance learning courses we offer at our website. You can keep up with all the latest NEC news and events by subscribing to our email newsletter or following our blog. We can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.