Emergency surgery no barrier to education

14 December 2023

Matt Allen has dealt with serious health issues while completing accounting and finance degree

Serious health issues which required emergency surgery haven’t stopped a determined University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) graduate from rising to the top and landing a job with a major food manufacturer.

New accounting and finance graduate Matt Allen was in the final two weeks of his sandwich placement at PwC when he was rushed into hospital with a perforated colon, caused by diverticulitis.

The 24-year-old said: “The last year has been really really tough, both physically and mentally. I needed emergency surgery and that left me with a stoma bag. Those first few weeks post-operation were so difficult, especially as there were a couple of complications post-surgery which slowed my recovery.

“I’ve had many hiccups and issues along the way, and sadly I wasn’t well enough to go back into university, so I studied almost exclusively from home from January this year. It meant I was unable to take my final year exams like the rest of my class so I had to defer my exams to August but I’m so relieved I managed to overcome it all.

“I am so much happier now, and much more confident in myself, thanks to the support I was lucky to receive from everyone around me and I’m absolutely delighted to finally get on the graduation stage.”

Matt, who donned his academic cap and gown on Thursday, is now working full-time as a finance graduate in Warburtons’ commercial finance team.

"If I was to give any advice to anyone going through a similar situation I’d say to just keep on going, things will always improve in the end "

Accounting and Finance graduate Matt Allen

The former Devizes School and Devizes Sixth Form pupil hasn’t always had a passion for finance.

He initially applied to study psychology at university, even travelling hundreds of miles north from Wiltshire to Preston to attend a UCLan Open Day but decided to take a year out. In that time, he managed a fish and chip shop and soon realised he was interested in the business and finance side of the job.

Matt commented: “When it came time to study at uni I changed my course to accounting. After coming for a visit, I became a big fan of Preston as a city, and the north of England in general. Even though I’d come to look at psychology on a UCLan Open Day back in 2017, I preferred it to other universities I had visited. I looked at its accounting and finance course and it was really good too, so it was an easy decision to make.”

He praised the one-year placement element of the four-year course, allowing him to put his learning into practice. While studying, he was a self-employment support volunteer alongside RIFT Social Enterprise, took part in the School of Business’ ‘Beyond Business’ campaign, and also managed a part-time job at MMBA accountants, in Preston.

With further studying ahead as he aims to become a chartered management accountant the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.

“If I was to give any advice to anyone going through a similar situation I’d say to just keep on going, things will always improve in the end. Here is to hoping after another year has passed I will have had the reversal surgery and be back to my usual self!