Young man who was labelled 'a naughty boy' turns his life around after joining the Army
PROUD mum Julie Shephard beams up at her son – a promising soldier in the British Army.
At 20 years old, Joseph's passing out parade was one of his parents' proudest moments, and "a day they had waited a long time for".
For at the age of just five, he was asked to leave Bradley Park Infants' School – the first of six schools he would go on to be excluded from, or asked to leave – diagnosed with a catalogue of behavioural issues along the way.
He has now turned his life around to proudly serve his country in the British Army and hopes others can learn from his mistakes.
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He has now settled into his forces training where he aims to eventually serve in the Air Dispatches Unit, but his journey has been a rocky one.
He said: "I cannot remember that far back, but I know it set me on the wrong road. Every school I attended I was always disruptive in class and would not pay attention.
"I was labelled a naughty boy."
Through his school life Joseph was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), then pathological demand avoidance syndrome (PDAS) and at seven years old, asperger syndrome.
Aged 12, he joined Underly Garden, a specialist school for children with behavioural problems in North Yorkshire, where he stayed until the age of 16, gaining five GCSEs, and also completed a year in the army cadets.
He went on to study public services at Grimsby Institute and by then knew the Army was for him.
However, being "labelled" with behavioural problems meant he failed his first Army medical.
Determined not to let his past stand in his way, his parents got a private second opinion – which found he had no behavioural conditions. They appealed the Army's decision and he got in.
He said: "I am glad to be in the Army and the discipline they give me keeps me grounded.
"I am looking to re-sit my GCSEs, but I do wish I was more sensible when at school.
"I hope others can learn from my mistakes and get the best out of their education as I have struggled to get where I am today and it is not nice."
Julie, 53, described her son as an "inspiration", adding: "This is proof he is worth a lot more than people gave him credit for and if you want something badly enough, you can get there."
Joseph is following in the footsteps of his sister, Army medic Leah Lewis, 29, who is on her fourth tour of Afghanistan – although he nearly didn't after a motorbike accident just a week before his first passing out parade meant he had to wait six months to rejoin.
FINDING a focus in life is what it’s all about!
Young people are often blown off course if they are not given a structure at an early age – a structure that will enable them to meet their expectations in life and strive for goals that are achievable to them.
Today’s front page is an ideal example of that.
There is little doubt that this young man had a number of issues in his early life that saw him in trouble and moving from school to school – which undoubtedly will not have helped his situation.
He could have easily got into deeper trouble, fallen out of a society that accepted him and ended up turning to a life of crime – leading to prison or worse.
But Joseph found a world that he wanted and people around him who were determined to see him succeed.
His attentions were then focused on the positive, as opposed to the negative and the military life offered him a true purpose.
Let his story be the spur which drives others on – however troublesome a life can seem, a focus can turn it around!
Follow the editor on Twitter @michellelalor