News Story

In February 2014, Jack McCune became seriously ill with a complex neurological illness which hospitalised him from April 2014. During this time he lost the capacity to walk, talk, read, write, feed or care for himself. Jack required an intensive multi-professional neuro-rehabilitation programme at Bristol Childrens' Hospital to enable him to regain a level of function suitable for him to be discharged to home to continue to recovery in late September 2014. 

Jack was a pupil with the Gloucestershire Hospital Education Service (GHES) until January 2017. The level of commitment and support he received from all staff was outstanding and helped Jack reach a point where he was able to return to school after an absence of 3 years.

He first took part in the 'Beyond Words' project in 2016. Given his background, the impact of the programme in terms of enabling Jack to express himself through the medium of the written word has been extraordinary. The project has had a deeply cathartic and healing effect on Jack. It has afforded him a channel to focus his efforts on regaining his confidence, engaging emotionally and physically with the skill sets necessary to read and write again, resilience and sense of self-worth as an individual as well as a creative writer.


Jack participated in the Beyond Words project, culminating in an anthology and performances at Cheltenham Literature Festival in 2017 and 2018. Jack went on to give interviews with ITV West Country and SkyArts about his experience with the project and went on to join us at Cheltenham Festivals for work experience during his A-Levels. In 2019 Cheltenham Festivals provided a character reference for Jack's University application.

I managed to pass all my A-Levels and have been able to get into Gloucestershire Uni where I will be studying TV production. Thank you for all the help and support you have given me, both of which have enabled me to reach where I am today.

Jack McCune, September 2020


Jack volunteered at the Cheltenham Literature Festival in the Film and Production team, while studying Film Production at University of Gloucestershire. He returned once again to Cheltenham Festivals in 2022, working with other past Beyond Words participants to co-produce The Scribbled Self - a creative writing resource to support mental well-being

Your guidance and faith in my ability, when I had none, without doubt, enabled me to successfully complete my studies, and I’m thankful for your support along the way. 

Jack McCune, December 2023

Jack's Journey In His Own Words

"My name is Jack McCune. Before I joined the [Beyond Words] project I was only able to be home-schooled by Gloucester Hospital Education Service and was completely unable to re-join full time education at that point in time. This was because I had experienced a severe mental and physical break down at my last school a few days after my 13th Birthday. This led to me being hospitalised for nearly six months. After which I joined the hospital education service. It was here that I first heard about the project. At first I hesitated to join out of uncertainty and a feeling that I wasn’t ready to be involved in something of this scale. However, when the opportunity was next offered to me I decided that I would have more to gain than I would from not taking part. Over the course of both the first and second project, I learned how to harness my creative abilities and reconnect socially with teenagers of my own age, which I had been unable to do at this point. The opportunity to listen to the advice of professional authors was a really unique and amazing experience and they gave me writing tips which I still use today. 

Reading at the Cheltenham Literature Festival did so much to boost my confidence in large social settings, I would never have considered doing this before starting the project. The project also taught me to seize opportunities when they present themselves. Thanks to the project I have been able to find my own creative outlet in Photography and have finally found a group of friends who I am happy to be with. It has also given me a better perspective on my own skills as a person and enabled me to finally return to school. Without the Beyond Words project I would not have been able to accomplish any of this."