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Preston nurse is first class

04 December 2012

Lyndsey Boardman

Mature student Lesley celebrates career change success

A Preston mum is celebrating a life-changing career switch at her University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) graduation ceremony.

Lesley Smith, a 58-year-old mum of three from New Longton, has collected her First-Class degree in Mental Health Nursing from the University after making the swap from civil servant to student nurse at the age of 55.

Lesley was prompted to follow her dream of becoming a nurse after she was diagnosed with epilepsy several years ago and refused to let it hold her back.  In recognition of her academic achievement, Lesley was named the joint winner of the annual Priory Hospital Preston Nursing Award for success during her studies alongside fellow student nurse Gemma Turner. 

Lesley received her award at her graduation ceremony from representatives of UCLan and The Priory Group, an independent hospital based in Preston which specialises in the management of acute psychiatric illness and who sponsored the award.

UCLan nursing student Lesley Smith with her family

“It was a big decision to return to University in my 50’s but one of the best I have ever made. I was supported by my family and the University and now have a very rewarding career.”

Lesley, who now works on an acute female in-patient psychiatric ward at Chorley Hospital, said: “I’ve enjoyed every moment of my studies and have surprised myself by how well I’ve done.  I completed several placements during my three years at UCLan which gave me a taste of the variety of roles available in mental health nursing.  I’m looking forward to an exciting career.”

Lesley threw herself into student life during her time at UCLan, acting as a student representative for her fellow students, raising money for the Royal College of Nursing and was an editor on UCLan student nursing magazine, Pulse.

She added: “It was a big decision to return to University in my 50’s but one of the best I have ever made.  I was supported by my family and the University and now have a very rewarding career.”