Warm welcome for five local ‘Gappies’ after year in the cold 

FIVE Tamworth high school graduates who enjoyed a gap year working in the English education system have received a warm – very warm – welcome on their return to the city.

After chilly four to five degree temperatures in London the students returned to heatwave conditions, but after almost 12 months away from their loved ones they were all looking forward to a good old-fashioned Aussie Christmas, no matter the temperature. 

Friends had also taken the time to create a banner they put at the Goonoo Goonoo Rd entrance to Tamworth with representations of each of the travellers and the words, “Welcome home, Gappies”.

The students, all from Carinya Christian School, made headlines in The Leader in September last year when they were accepted by Tutors Worldwide to particpate in its gap year program.

Six of them actually made the trip, but Nick Larkin didn’t return to Tamworth until Christmas Eve.

It’s a rare thing to have so many students from the one school selected for the same program, and it was an opportunity they all embraced.

The schools they worked at were all over England, but that didn’t stop them from reuniting during one of the semester breaks for an epic two-month trip through Europe.

Georgia Harvey, who worked at Blackheath Preparatory School, spent her days assisting teachers with classroom activities and said the relationships she’d forged with both staff and students were her highlight.

“I’ve made friends for life,” she said, now preparing to start medicine at Newcastle University.

Rebekah Larkin was at the Catholic all-girls Leweston School in Sherborne in north-west England and said the travel they were able to experience was something she’d never forget.

The historic city of Cambridge was Tyler Coleman’s home, working at St John’s College School where he said saying goodbye to the students had been the toughest part of leaving.

“They’d become like my brothers and sisters,” he said.

For Lauren Mole, the friendships she’d formed were also among her most precious memories, but she’d also been given the opportunity to challenge herself when allowed to teach music classes solo.

Their own friendships have also become stronger and that will no doubt grow when four of the other five join Georgia at Newcastle University next year.

Rebekah is heading to Sydney to study art education at the College of Fine Arts in Sydney, but Lauren (physiotherapy), Tyler (communications), Nicholas (arts) and Sam Morris (engineering) are bound for the Steel City.

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