Determined mature student beats challenging circumstances to achieve her dream of becoming a midwife.

Posted on 20th September 2016

A mature student from Ellesmere Port has proved that perseverance and dedication can lead you to achieving your dreams.

Helen Bridge
Helen Bridge

Helen Bridge, who is 43, has wanted to study midwifery since she was 16. Without the required GCSE grades, this dream seemed far off, but she chose to pursue it in spite of the obstacles. For the next 20 years, she studied when she could, gaining qualifications including GCSEs in Maths, English and Psychology. She also undertook specialised courses, completing her Access to Higher Education in Nursing and Midwifery course with distinction. Finally, she had everything she needed to start at university.

The University of Chester was Helen’s first choice, primarily because she had heard of the good reputation of the Midwifery course. She also found the course content particularly interesting. Once she began, she threw herself into her studies.

Helen said: “I thought I had a lot of life experience, but the course completely changed my outlook and showed me the importance of continual learning. Midwifery is a science and an art. It’s a vocation, and the course helps you to build on the skills that you have and develop new skills as well.”

In the second year of her studies, Helen faced challenging circumstances. She took special guardianship of her grandchildren, a process that stretched her time and energy.

Helen said: “Through this time, all the lecturers in the department were there on hand to help and support me. They all had an open door and there were plans and strategies to help me through.” In spite of her circumstances, Helen continued her studies and went on to succeed, both within and outside her course.

Karen Lunt, Senior Lecturer in Midwifery, Child and Reproductive Health, said: “Helen is motivated and has shown great courage and fortitude throughout her time here. Helen enriches the life of everyone she meets with her engaging personality and her cheerful determination. Helen has shown empathy and support to other members of her Midwifery cohort and is a role model and inspiration to potential candidates for the Midwifery programme.”

Helen’s lecturers have also mentioned that Helen even changed as a person during her study, alongside the development of her skills, knowledge and outlook on life. On the professional placements, Helen was able to fully demonstrate her commitment, ability and new skillset. Lecturers and mentors said that she was always professional and gave excellent care. Due to her excellent performance during placement, and her academic ability, Helen was awarded a Highly Commended award in the First Steps into Employment Category for the Adult Learner Week awards. The award was presented at the University’s Valedictory Awards ceremony by a representative from Health Education England (North West).

On top of her academic and professional successes, Helen also took time to develop herself outside of her course. She says that the Department signposted her to skills classes, writing courses and voluntary work. Helen held the important position of Student Academic Representative for two years, in which she supported Midwifery students in their studies and represented any concerns.

Helen was also active in numerous student conferences in the region. In particular, she helped to organise a student conference largely for Health Care students, called Healthy Lives, Healthy Students, helping with the locations, rooms, speakers and schedule. The conference drew in a large number of students in various areas of nursing from all over the North West.

With her qualification and her award, alongside her new knowledge and skills, Helen has a wide variety of options of what she can do next. She is considering a specialised role in midwifery and gaining a Master’s qualification. Helen looks forward to the next challenge she can tackle.

Adding her own praise, Karen Lunt said: “Helen has achieved a great deal under very challenging circumstances and always has a positive and optimist outlook. Helen upholds and embodies all the necessary attributes for an outstanding member of the midwifery profession.”