A husband and wife who returned to study in their 40s will both graduate in Lincoln next week with first-class honours.

Andy and Debbie Hicks had to juggle studying at Bishop Grosseteste University with work and looking after their two children, and Debbie also overcame a serious illness which forced her to miss most of an academic year.

But on Tuesday 14th July they will celebrate their perseverance by receiving their degree certificates at Lincoln Cathedral.

They are not the first members of their family to receive first-class honours: Debbie’s son Adam gained a first-class degree from Coventry University last year and her mother Christine Love graduated with first-class honours from Bishop Grosseteste College (as it was then) in the 1980s.

Debbie enrolled at BGU to study Education Studies and History but after a year she decided that she no longer wanted a career in teaching, so she switched to the History and Theology joint degree course.

“At the same time I found out that BGU offered a single honours degree in Theology,” she said. “Andy worked for the Life Church in Lincoln and it had always been his dream to do a theology degree, so he signed up for the course and combined studying with his job.”

It was in December 2013 that Debbie became seriously ill; she needed three operations and was in hospital for much of the academic year.

“We also moved house twice, my mother was very ill too and my stepfather passed away, so it was a very difficult time for us. We had just about everything thrown at us so it’s a wonderful surprise now to learn that we both gained first-class degrees!”

With honours degrees under their belts Debbie (46) starts a new job next week as a community

co-ordinator for the Royal Voluntary Service while Andy (43) is also looking forward to a change in his career.

“We both thoroughly enjoyed our courses and we’re going to miss BGU hugely,” said Debbie. “It’s a wonderful university for mature students: it’s small and friendly and we found that the younger students accepted us as part of the group.

“We owe a huge debt of thanks to the tutors at BGU, especially Jack Cunningham, who have been fantastic – we will miss them all so much.”

10th July 2015