ABCC Certificate of Merit

The ABCC is a trade association for distance learning providers, all of whom have to sign up to the ABCC Code of Ethics. Members may nominate their students and clients for a Certificate of Merit for outstanding results or achievement through overcoming difficulties. Here we feature those who have recently been awarded the Certificate.


Client: Samantha Stewart

samSamantha (Sam) has had an extraordinary history of health problems since was a small child but, having served in the Army, she adopted the Army’s motto as her own: adapt, improvise, overcome.

She enrolled with us in July 2015 for the course for Paper 1 in the ICB Level 2 exams. We offer the Paper 1 course on its own as a way for clients to ‘try out’ bookkeeping before committing themselves to the full course and going on to register with the ICB and to take the exams.

Sam completed her assignments with 100% and went on to take our non-exam Introduction to VAT course for which she also obtained 100% for her assignment work. She was able to take the Level 2 Paper 1 Bookkeeping in October 2016 and passed first time with a Merit grade. She promptly re-enrolled for the courses covering Papers 2 and 3, passing the Paper 2 exam with Distinction in December after gaining 99% on her coursework.  In March 2017, she achieved a Distinction with 99% for Paper 3 Computerised Bookkeeping. Her aggregate award for the Certificate in  Bookkeeping, over the three papers, was a Distinction (96%).

In view of her ‘extraordinary history of health problems’, and the determination with which she overcame them, we felt that Sam should tell her own background story in more detail as follows below:

Born in Northern Ireland, an only child attending a Special Education School as I was not able to walk, or talk, until after I was 4 ½ yrs old due to undiagnosed hypothyroidism.   But this I have always viewed as a gift.  Killard House offered me not just an education, but a holistic skill set that would equip me for life after school, this included the desire, and understanding the importance of continually investing in oneself, and taking responsibility for my outcomes. Our curriculum did not include exams, or the usual mandatory tests as in mainstream education. It instilled essential practical skills, self-knowledge and reliance, and critical strategies (realistic positivity being one) with which to handle life’s ups, and downs.

I enrolled in night classes for my English O level as soon as I left school at 16, whilst studying my C&G’s Horticulture, and Numeracy Level 1; this was to prove to myself that I could stick at something if I was indeed to apply to join the Army.   I also took day classes for Spanish Conversation, and Assertiveness in between my C&Gs’ exams.

I have since always taken up some form of study covering a wide array of subjects, aiming for more challenging levels of qualification.  The back drop to my childhood was the consistent paramilitary assassination attempts on my parents and me due to my father’s occupation.  I learnt very early on you cannot always control everything that happens to you, but you can change how you react to it.  The Ulster sense of humour plays a large part.

I went on to serve in the British army from 1991-97 as an HGV driver in the Royal Corps of Transport, serving two UN Tours in Cyprus in a range of roles, challenging myself and obtaining my 4000 metres swimming award. I left with a record of Exemplary Conduct.  Faced with knee injuries, and other medical problems in ‘94, I was placed in the Officers’ Mess.  I channelled my anger at the situation into attaining my Steward Class 1, and Officers’ Mess Manager’s qualifications, the latter normally only attended, and position held by those 4-5 ranks above my own.   Since leaving the Army, my occupations have included Assistant Hotel Manager, Regional Contract cleaning Manager, Self-Employed HGV Driver, and a host of many others.  And when finding myself unable to work I raised money for charities by means of selling home-baked goods, growing and selling plants, vegetables, preserves, bespoke pieces of woodwork.

The army adage “Adapt , improvise, and overcome” sums up neatly the choice of attitude, a sheer necessity, when being met with the ever changing circumstances (mentioned below), and the evolving relationship one has with the body and mind due to medical conditions that can be unpredictable. I have multiple and painful musculo-skeletal injuries, and widespread rheumatological conditions. But also dystonia, and an undiagnosed neurological condition that remains with the speculative diagnosis of MS and MND.  Symptoms include muscle twitching and involuntary movement, rigidity, spasms, neuropathic pain, mental and physical fatigue, forgetfulness, with variable, and unpredictable loss of motor control and reflex.  And I have in the past become very dependent upon using a powered wheelchair, and wheeled walkers.

Cycles of repeated ill health due to the wrong medication, work related injury, major operations, loss of child, divorce, my parents’ PTSD and mental health problems, and ASB from neighbours, I can say hand on heart that I wouldn’t wish for a different life.

The onset of neurological problems and the subsequent having to sell my first home, working back up, to have to sell the second property I bought, this time brought me perilously close to homelessness.  As every new situation presented itself’, and symptoms moved the goal posts, so other paths were open to me.  Attending classes became more difficult, from 2007 onwards I studied from home with a range of providers, qualifying for my Master Herbalist Diploma at Level 4, and a host of other vocational, and recreational courses.  Meanwhile I worked to attain my Reiki & Seichem Masters.

Always determined that my experiences and skills be put to use, most of my jobs have involved accounts, payroll, quotes, invoicing, or VAT, and I felt it would be good to have these channelled and transformed into a formal qualification, and one that would give me an additional occupation to turn may hand to when my symptoms ruled out other jobs during a week. I felt that it be useful in volunteering with my credit union, or accounting for charity fundraising.  I also see a time when the welfare state eventually places greater complexity, and responsibility for financial record keeping and submission, upon the recipients.

Shortly after commencing Module 1 of ICB Bookkeeping, I experienced difficulties which were diagnosed as Meares-Irlen Syndrome (also known as Visual Stress).  To give myself the best chance and greater qualitative learning experience I felt it better to pull out from studies officially, and whilst waiting for the prescription lenses, and clearing of the demoralising brain fog caused by the pain relief I ceased taking, I continued to steadily work through the coursework, still giving myself deadlines.   Being faced with starting from scratch was an opportunity not to be missed!  It gave me a stronger foundation knowledge of the basics and a confidence that would better support further learning of more complicated course content. I felt I deserved to give myself the best chance to succeed, and an enjoyable learning experience is a far more productive one.  My advice is to ask for any extra help and time before you start, or at least make people aware that this might be needed; it is better to have the extra time and not need it.

I chose to study the ICB Bookkeeping because of the help they offered to disabled students, such as extra time in exams, but also that the exams were done at home for Level 2, and a generous time frame for completion once booked. The Distance Learning Partnership gave me objective and impartial advice about my choice of course, their understanding, and high standard of service and tutoring left me feeling prepared, able, and actually excited and looking forward to taking on my first real exam, and those that came after.

When the mental fatigue occurs, and content isn’t going to be absorbed, I use this time to create blank nominal ledger sheets, and templates for invoices, browsing through the units ahead to see if there is any way/where I can use study time more effectively.

How to avoid wanting to jack it in?  I still look ahead and set goals and make a range of plans, but I give myself a range of routes to help me reach them and allow for about turns.

I find it helps putting the far off horizon to one side, and focus on the mini successes, each time a task is completed, or unit; taking one step at a time.  Acceptance that there have to be sacrifices is also part of it; for me I have to avoid activities that involve concentration such as watching a DVD, or driving, if I want to be able to do course work next day.   So you have to be your own party-pooper at times.

The Greenfields VAT Course was of huge help, and it made Module 2 of my ICB Bookkeeping a lot more manageable, ensuring quicker completion time, which is what I wanted as Sage Accounts were next, and IT not my strongest area.

I am currently working with East Anglian Drivability in getting my driving licences back, but with the relevant codes for the hand controls and other adaptations.


Client: Sandra MillettSimons wedding

Sandra gained her qualifications after a severe illness…and a big set-back. She enrolled with DLP a few years back for our courses for the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers examinations and passed Levels I and II. Having to go out to work while feeling unwell prevented her from continuing with further studies to complete the Membership exams.  She was suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome (ME), with severe depression, which can be both physically and mentally debilitating.

In 2013, having learnt to manage her condition, though unable to work, Sandra decided to resume her studies. Unfortunately she had let her registration with the Institute lapse and so was faced with having to re-take the exams she had previously passed.  This would be enough to put many people off.

Sandra re-registered with the Institute, but first took and passed the exam for the Level III Diploma in Payroll Management in January 2014, before going on to the complete all the Manual and Computerised Bookkeeping exams at Levels I, II and III (five exams) between March 2014 and March 2015. She is now delighted to be a fully qualified Member of the Institute, licensed to practise as bookkeeper.

Sandra writes that: “One of the reasons I chose bookkeeping and also distance learning was that I can do it at my own pace and have the breaks I need and that I can work for myself.  Having to re-start though was a real set-back for me as  I had achieved good results on the course previously.  When the ICB told me that I had to do it all over again I very nearly gave up. My courses actually helped to keep my brain active as although I was unable to work at the time I still needed to use my brain! Receiving my certificate with my Member grade and being able to use the letters MICB Dip PM after my name made it all worthwhile.  It is such an amazing feeling. It has given me a real drive and an addiction to learning. I am not going to stop here…!”

Sandra’s Tutor, Ray Taylor, supported her nomination of the Certificate of Merit, reporting that: “Sandra worked very hard on the courses and was a great student, in that she let me know if she had any questions or problems and was happy to discuss anything until she was confident in a topic. We got to know more about each other as we shared anecdotes and thoughts about the day which added to the pleasure of receiving her assignments. Each was more like receiving a letter from a friend than formal and more distance teacher-student relationship.”

Sandra was awarded her ABCC Certificate of Merit in June 2015.

COURSE: GCE A Level History

Client: Edward Kimberley

Edward is the lad in the cream suit in the picture taken from an appearance in the musical, The Boy Friend.

The Boy FriendEdward is a home-educated student who was only 14 when he enrolled for the AS Early Modern History course in 2010. He added the A2 module, which includes coursework to be marked by his Tutor, in 2011 and passed his Advanced Level with a good grade in 2012 aged only 16. Behind that seemingly innocuous statement, there is a very impressive story of determination against considerable difficulties.

Edward was withdrawn from school aged 10 with CFS/ME and Asperger’s Syndrome and struggled at times even to hold a book to read. He has been supported in his studies by his mother, Sheila, who explained his difficulties to us before Edward enrolled. Edward uses a keyboard for essay writing as he can’t write for long by hand without pain and required medical certificates to take his exams. By age 13, however, he had gained three IGCSEs as well as the European Computer Driving Licence and Adult Literacy, equivalent to five Level 2 qualifications. He began AS Levels at 15, taking his first exams in 2009. He took AS& A2 Economics in January 2010, AS & A2 Environmental Studies in June 2010 (although he was too unwell to do any field trips) followed by AS & A2 Government & Politics with General Studies in January 2011. Along the way, he did our AS and A2 units for Modern History, plus French, English Language and Literature. He finished his GCEs with 5 A* grades and 4 B grades.

Unusually, besides studying Early Modern History, Edward was also taking Modern History with another distance learning provider. The examination board, Edexcel, agreed so long as one set of exams was completed before the other. In between, Edwards has passed grade 8 Piano with Merit, grade 8 Singing with Distinction and Cello also with Distinction. He juggled coursework for History along with rehearsals for The Boy Friend, in which Edward played Bobby van Heuse. So at least it was not all work and no play. Edward has been accepted to read Politics at London University from September 2013.



Client: Rodica Petrea

RodicaRodica enrolled for our ICB course in August 2011 and passed all five examinations with a Distinction in each, qualifying for full Membership of the Institute by the end of November. This is something of a record and is certainly a remarkable achievement! (She did very well on her course assignments too.)

Rodica writes: “I am 23 years old, originating from a tiny country called Moldova. I took my Bachelor’s degree in Economics in June 2010 (in my country), studied business and finance in the US for a year, and finally just completed a Book-keeping course with DLP. I have a thirst for knowledge, ambition and big dreams. Studying at DLP was a great experience and I must say that I really had fun while studying 🙂 Not because there were any funny pictures in my study materials but most because this course was a constant challenge which I was determined to tackle. And on top of all, I had the best tutor ever.”

Rodica was placed 1st out of 16 graduates in specialties at the University of Moldova and was an exchange student at Grambling State University Louisiana USA after being awarded a fellowship through the Global UGRAD in Eurasia & Central Asia Program. She was a volunteer at a local centre for children with special needs in Moldova and founded a joint Association ‘Avante’ in 2005 which aimed to engage teenagers to participate in community projects.



Client: Le’Ron Burrows

Le’Ron BurrowsLe’Ron enrolled for this course, in which students select four modules from five, in August 2010 and completed all of them, with a distinction in each, by November 2011. He was the first student to achieve such an excellent result in this course, which provides an entry route to the Diploma in Commercial Management.

Le’Ron lives in the beautiful island of New Providence, Bahamas and works as an Assistant Quantity Surveyor with Bahamas Hot Mix Co. He was sponsored by his company – a good investment! He recounts that a professor once told him that a person who does not pay attention in class spends the rest of his life on the roadside counting utility poles while others pass by. Many years later, not only does he happen to be counting utility poles but he has also become a proud and active project team member, responsible for drafting and measuring civil works. In addition, he assists in analysis, tracking and management of major infrastructure and road projects.

Le’Ron regards education is the key for betterment in modern times and that undertaking the Certificate in Commercial Management course has afforded him that opportunity.



Client: Mohamed Elaida

Mohamed Elaida from Malta was the first to complete the Diploma in Commercial Management, introduced in 2009.

Mohamed ElaidaMohamed was awarded his Diploma 2011, with a distinction in every module and an overall Distinction. He is the only student to whom our Tutor, Hamish Mitchell, has ever awarded 100% for an assignment. It is not an easy course! Mohamed started his career as a Quantity Surveyor in 1988, after gaining a diploma in architecture and urban planning. He has been involved in many major civil engineering projects, including hydro-electric power plant, power station, freeport and hospital. With over 22 years’ experience in quantity surveying and commercial management, working both for the Contractor (1988-2005) and for the Client (from 2005), he nevertheless felt that there was always room for improvement of his skills. He wrote to us: “Although it wasn’t easy balancing the family needs and study, I always managed to find time to study and prepare my assignments.

This was usually done either late at night or very early in the morning.” He feels that the course in Commercial Management not only helped him with his work but also has helped him to pass his membership interviews for three professional bodies. In addition to his Diploma, Mohamed was also awarded the ABCC Certificate of Merit to mark his very fine achievement.


Tell your story

Do you have a story to tell about your wish to study and what you have achieved? Please do tell us. Other clients would love to read about it. Everyone has a different experience and different circumstances but all share the desire to succeed through their own efforts. And you may be awarded a Certificate!

Just go to our contact page and let us know.

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