A CHORLEY charity’s ‘soft soap’ approach to schooling has helped a timid truant turn into an award-winning would-be welder and part-time window cleaner.

Alex Benyon, 16, terrified his mother by missing six months of his education by bunking off.

Unsure about speaking up in class, Alex, of Pall Mall, became so reserved he pret-ended to go to school, doub-led back and spent days on end in his bedroom.

But the threat of legal action against his mum, Yvonne, plus being referred to George Street charity Rathbone, has put Alex, who subsidises his education by completing a window cleaning round, on the ladder to a successful career.

Alex is one of 19 students, who swapped possible exc-lusion from high school for a place on the LEAP (Lanc-ashire Education Alternative Provision) programme, being honoured at a special cerem-ony today.

He said: “I’ve always been a quiet person and the classes were really big and it put me off.

“The school started send-ing letters home and it made my mum really upset and stressed. When I found out she could get punished for me being off, I got really worried.”

Teachers at Parklands High School sent him to the LEAP scheme at Rathbone.

Although he didn’t know anybody else on the course, Alex soon became confident enough to speak up.

“The groups are much smaller and the tutors really care,” he said.

Alex now wants to stay with the charity and begin an apprenticeship in welding and body work, and also squeezes in cleaning windows in the Chorley area between his studies.

He will be honoured today as one of Rathbone Chorley’s ‘achievers of the year’ at an end-of-term celebration.