As the daughter of wonderful Derry parents, who emigrated to Scotland in the late 1940s, I was born and raised in the west of Scotland. Blessed with a loving upbringing, I was steeped firmly in the Catholic Faith and Catholic values. I’m proud to say my roots are in Derry, where I visit family as often as possible.
With a background in Education, I thought my path was a settled one. I started as a Careers Adviser in schools and a Further Education College. Some years later, I retrained at St. Andrew’s College of Education in Glasgow, and thereafter began my career within Catholic Education, as a Primary Teacher in the Diocese of Dunkeld. All was going well.
However, one day, in 2001, my life changed forever. An unexpected illness was diagnosed. The shock was terrible. I didn’t know at the time what would come next, if anything. Nor could I ever have imagined what life then held in store. I put my trust in the Blessed Lord and He carried me through the difficult times. Never again would I take life for granted.
As my health and strength slowly returned, I made the decision to tutor in English (mainly) and also Maths. I began locally but, again unexpectedly, I was introduced to interesting people who opened the most surprising doors for me. I went on to tutor in London; Aspen, Colorado; the South of France and Monaco: My little business was born.
I was also able to do voluntary work for my local Parish Priest, Monsignor Charles Hendry. He encouraged me to write about my travels. Monsignor died earlier this year, aged 87, just a few months off his 65th Priestly Ordination. In his memory, I decided to put pen to paper.
My first small book of poetry about my tutoring adventures, From Lessons to Memories, was published in 2020 and my second book, The Migrants’ Journey to Love, was published in February 2021. This focused on migrants of old and of today and allowed me to write about my own parents’ journey from Derry to Scotland and, full circle, back to Derry.
In turn, the poetry has allowed me to connect with even more wonderful people, in a variety of different places, for example your own Diocese of Derry. I am very grateful for that.
With hindsight, I can clearly see God’s Hand in all that has happened in my life. I have no idea what His plan for my future is, but this I can say with certainty: It will be much better than anything I can ever plan for myself.
“My journey began with an illness.
My journey began with a step.
One foot in front of the other.
Allowing me to see where I’d get.”
Noreen Hickey is a former teacher, now a tutor, poet and author.