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Heart attack doesn’t stop mature student from completing his studies

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Mature student Michael Newall who graduated after having a heart attack in his first year.

Michael Newell beat the odds to graduate

A heart attack survivor has had plenty to smile about after fulfilling his lifelong dream of graduating with a philosophy degree.

Mature student Michael Newall suffered his attack during the Christmas holiday of his first year of his studies at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan). But this week the 59-year-old with a first class degree and is overjoyed to have donned his cap and gown.

He said: “It felt very natural going back into education, I felt at home. I realised once I started university how little I knew and how much I had to learn. It’s been hard work but tremendous.”

Despite his life-threatening illness Michael carried on with his studies and managed to complete his first year successfully.

After leaving Sidcup Grammar School, in London, at age 16 he immediately went into the working world and did not pursue anything academic until he was 56. He worked for a variety of companies including Lloyds, Mind – the mental health charity and the NHS and has lived in the North for the past 25 years.

It felt very natural going back into education, I felt at home. I realised once I started university how little I knew and how much I had to learn. It’s been hard work but tremendous.

Philosophy was always a passion for Michael but when he made the decision to study it at degree level Michael found it difficult to find a university willing to accept his application with no post-16 qualifications. But he was accepted on to the BA Philosophy programme at UCLan on the strength of an interview and successful completion of an essay-writing task.

He said: “I would like to thank the philosophy staff at UCLan for their unwavering support and kindness both before, and during my degree. I never thought I would be here.”

Michael will continue his UCLan studies as he plans to start a master’s degree in philosophy and hopes to stay in academia and go on to study a PhD.

He added: “It would be nice to feel like I had made one tiny contribution to our thinking.”

Press Office | 15 July 2016