JOE GALEA received his first education certificate at the age of 61.
Last December Mr Galea graduated in computer studies from Panthers on the Prowl’s adult education program.
‘‘It’s marvellous, I can’t believe what it’s let me do,’’ he said.
‘‘I’ve picked up skills and I’m able to transfer photos and download information.’’
Mr Galea lives in Luddenham and operates a successful business, J&P Concrete Pumping, but he has regretted cutting off his education early.
‘‘I was only 14 when I left school,’’ he said.
‘‘I wasn’t that good at school work so I used to mow the lawn there instead, with a push-mower.
‘‘I was virtually the greenkeeper.’’
His father managed a market garden at Prospect, so young Joe left school when he could to help with the business.
He bought his own business at 19, trucking freight around Sydney and gradually expanding it to Newcastle and Melbourne, before operating J&P Concrete.
‘‘I’m really happy, but sometimes I get frustrated,’’ Mr Galea said.
His wife, Pauline, said this was because it was important to have the right literacy, numeracy and computer skills for today’s business.
‘‘When it comes to balancing books or transferring money, you need them,’’ Mrs Galea said.
Last year she enrolled in the Panthers on the Prowl computer course and soon decided her husband should too.
‘‘She put me in and made sure I kept going,’’ Mr Galea said.
‘‘But soon I was enjoying it.’’
He praised his teacher, Panthers’ project officer Graham Collins, for the work he did.
‘‘Joe had a number of fears because of his limited education, but his confidence grew and he felt more empowered,’’ Mr Collins said.
‘‘One of the good things is this is not offered as a TAFE course is.
‘‘It’s a more informal atmosphere and is about people sharing their experiences and building their confidence.’’
Mr Galea said he liked it so much he would enrol in more Panthers on the Prowl courses.
‘‘You also make a lot of friends there and it’s for free,’’ he said.