Correspondent job led to life change

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WHEN the Guide and Gazette offered local woman Sandra Ireland the position of news correspondent back in 2006 little did she think it would lead to a life-changing love affair with words.

“I had a great imagination as a child and was always dreaming up stories,” says Sandra. “But I was a mother of two before I actually applied for a job that involved writing. Working for the Guide & Gazette taught me such a lot about the discipline and attention to detail required in journalism.

“I loved my time with the paper and met many interesting characters. It gave me the confidence to apply for a degree course in English at the University of Dundee, a lifelong ambition, and I am due to graduate in June with an honours degree in English and Creative Writing.”

Through the University’s creative writing department, Sandra had rediscovered her love for writing fiction and has had several publishing successes in the last couple of years, including the recent release of her first book, a novella called ‘Foxfire’, by American company Soul Mate Publishing. She is just putting the finishing touches to a fantasy novel for teenagers set in Celtic Ireland.

“Going back to study as a mature student has been an amazing experience,” she says. “I would urge anyone to give it a go.

“As we get older it’s often difficult to summon up the courage to try new things, but it’s so rewarding when we do.”

Sandra is convinced that creative writing, at any level, is a wonderful form of therapy and mental exercise, and last year decided to start up ‘Scribblers’, a class for would-be writers in Carnoustie’s Philip Hall. One of her first ‘students’ was local Tai Chi teacher, Carol Ford.

“Sandra’s Scribblers class is ideal for anyone who wants to have a go at writing,” Carol says.

“Whether it be short stories or a novel. The class is very informal and Sandra makes it good fun. A year ago I struggled to put words on paper - now... I love it.”

Jean Brown, founder of Carnoustie Befrienders, agrees. “We are a small group and have got to know each other well. Sandra will throw a subject at us and in 10 minutes we have to write something! I love hearing how each person’s interpretation differs. Being a member of Sandra’s group has made me think that perhaps I can write!”

Sandra is hoping that anyone who has made a resolution to put pen to paper in the New Year will get in touch. Classes are held every Tuesday from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Philip Hall, Carnoustie. Full details can be found at her website: http://sandraireland.vpweb.co.uk or ‘phone 07917 357874.