IT might not be everyone’s idea of a dream come true – a visit to the Bank of England.
But it was a moment Rebecca Shillito, from Thornton, had waited nearly 10 years for.
The 28-year-old missed out on her chance to have a tour of the bank, in London, when she was studying for her A-levels in 2002, after she was diagnosed with a brain tumour.
She was captain of a team of A-level students from Blackpool Sixth Form College who reached the final of a competition, the Target 2.5 Challenge, run by the Bank of England.
The final was being held at the bank itself, but sadly Rebecca had to miss out, as doctors discovered the tumour. She had to undergo surgery and radiotherapy, and still has regular check-ups.
Her college team still went to the finals and went on to win – beating top schools, including Eton.
Mervyn King, then deputy governor of the Bank of England, wrote to her, inviting her to visit another time when she was feeling better.
And 10 years later, she finally did!
Rebecca, who is studying for a degree in social science and economics through the Open University, said: “I was still having treatment when I received the letter inviting me, and my confidence had been affected, so I forgot about it.
“But nearly 10 years later, my confidence had improved significantly, and I just thought it was worth a try writing to them to see if I could still take them up on the offer. I was delighted when they organised a tour for me.
“I went to the bank at the start of November, was greeted by the PA of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), who showed me to one of the many magnificent rooms within the massive building to meet somebody who wanted to speak to me.
“I was astonished – it was Mervyn King! We had a brief chat, then went into a pre-MPC meeting.
“It was fascinating and I was surprised I actually understood what they were talking about!
“My final activity was a tour of the chambers with the coordinator of the Target 2.5 challenge from 2002. She was no longer in the role, but had requested she conducted the tour as she remembered me from the competition and had known about my illness.
“It was fantastic to see behind the scenes, it gave me a real insight.
“I do hope my story might give some hope to other people too.
“After my treatment, doctors said I would probably never work or study again. Now I have a full-time job and next year will get my degree.”
Rebecca, who remembers little of her illness, has her own thoughts on the current financial crisis.
She said: “I think the Eurozone crisis emphasises the impact globalisation has had on the global economy, as the troubles in Greece have impacted on all Eurozone countries, and even the UK – even though we opted out of the single currency.”