January 6, 2017 at 02:39AM

My fiance, Andrew Ward, who has died aged 38, was born with cystic fibrosis. The life expectancy of someone born today with CF is 41, but for Andy it was a triumph to reach adulthood. Throughout his life he defied the odds.

Andy was born and brought up in Leeds, the son of Valerie Bond (nee Ward), a cleaner, and Steven Westerman, a builder. He attended Whitecote primary, Bramley St Peter’s C of E middle and Benjamin Gott High schools, then left home to become a bar supervisor in Harvey’s wine bar, Leeds. After being retired through ill health in his early 20s, he returned to education and completed an access to higher education course in 2009.

He then embarked upon a full-time honours degree in media and popular culture at Leeds Beckett University. He viewed his condition as motivation for his drive, ambition and tenacity. He got up at 4.30 each morning to have time for nebulisers and physiotherapy before travelling to lectures and seminars. In July 2012 he graduated with first-class honours and a trio of awards: the best dissertation award, the Dean’s prize for outstanding student achievement in media and the Alan McGregor prize for outstanding work by a mature student. His dissertation tutor said: “It was an utter pleasure and privilege to teach Andrew and the highest mark I have ever awarded was to Andrew for his remarkable dissertation.”

Andy was awarded a scholarship for an MA course in cultural studies at the University of Leeds, where his intention was to build a module about disability and to become a lecturer. Unfortunately, he was unable to complete this because of declining health. He was placed on the transplant list and received six false calls for transplant before he died.

Andrew was witty, positive, funny and completely open and honest about all aspects of his life, his illness, organ donation and transplant. He was an avid reader of comics and a Star Wars fan. He enlightened and influenced many with his unique approach to life, appreciating each day as if it were his last.

In his own words: “I wouldn’t change a thing. Why? For better or worse, cystic fibrosis has given me so much. All I need to be happy is to wake up and feel relatively good and be surrounded by the people I love. CF has given me the ability to see life and all of its glory in a purer, more valued sense than most people do.”

He is survived by me and by two stepsons, Cameron and Morgan, by his parents and by his siblings, Sarah, Darren, Ben and Claire.

from Education | The Guardian http://ift.tt/2jk5HLp