Doctors said Corrie would not reach age of 45

Ms Annien Schoeman is Ms Corrie Gallagher’s jewelry design lecturer. She encourages Ms Gallagher not to give up, but to keep on trying and designing. Ms Gallagher enjoys creating her own jewelry.

Ms Corrie Gallagher was diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease from a very young age.

“What it basically is, is muscular atrophy and polio combined.

“Doctors said I would not reach the age of 45 and I already celebrated my 60th birthday.

“I walked normal until they began to operate on my spine.

“After I have been in a wheelchair for a month, I knew it was not for me.

“I could not stay in a wheelchair and it is through determination and willingness that I got up from that chair and am walking today,” Ms Gallagher explained.

She has had 16 spinal operations.

Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) is one of the most common inherited neurological disorders, affecting approximately one in 2 500 people.

The disease is named after the three physicians who first identified it in 1886, Jean-Martin Charcot, Pierre Marie in Paris, France, and Howard Henry Tooth in Cambridge, England.

CMT, also known as hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy (HMSN) or peroneal muscular atrophy, comprises a group of disorders that affect peripheral nerves.

The peripheral nerves lie outside the brain and spinal cord and supply the muscles and sensory organs in the limbs.

Disorders that affect the peripheral nerves are called peripheral neuropathies.

“Because I cannot take part in any physical activities, I love to create things with my hands and be creative and artistic.

“I saw an advert of the Secunda Jewelry School on Facebook and decided I would like to try it out.

“It was a beginners’ course during which they teach you the basics of making your own jewelry with silver.

“My love for making and designing jewelry began with bead work.

“I made necklaces and earrings and most of my work were sent to my sister to be sold in England.

“She sent me the money and I could then attend the course at Secunda Jewelry School.

Ms Gallagher tried everything, from pottery, metal work to pewter, but has not yet mastered knitting.

In the beginning when she began with the jewelry course, she was scared of the machine she had to work with and got discouraged when she broke something.

Her lecturer, Ms Annien Schoeman, however encouraged her to keep on trying and to practice.

Ms Schoeman’s dream was to become a game ranger, but because there was not enough money for her to follow her dream, she learned how to design jewelry.

“Friends of mine were already qualified and I learned from them.

“I have been designing and making jewelry for more that 17 years.

“You have to have a passion for it to keep at it,” said Ms Schoeman.

For Ms Gallagher it is great that she can still use her hands and be creative.

“It is rewarding to design something and then to make it.

“When you see the end product, it is like, wow, I made that,” she said.

Ms Gallagher is like family to the lecturers and staff at Secunda Jewelry School.

She is already busy with the advanced course and knows how to set stones in silver.

Her uniquely designed pendant is nearly finished.

“The more I learn, the more I want to learn.

“That is what is also very exciting, the fact that you can design something that no one else has.

“You can design, make and wear your own jewelry,” she explained.

Many people think they have machines that make and cut the jewelry for them, when in actual fact they make everything by hand.

For more information or if you would also like to take a jewelry designing course, you can contact Ms Schoeman at 082 443 2414.


Ms Annien Schoeman is Ms Corrie Gallagher’s jewelry design lecturer. She encourages Ms Gallagher not to give up, but to keep on trying and designing. Ms Gallagher enjoys creating her own jewelry.

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