Students and special guests packed into Lincoln Cathedral in their robes and gowns to receive their degrees from Bishop Grosseteste University.
Over 1,100 students from the university graduate during the three ceremonies held on July 14 and 15.
Joining the students at the ceremony today (July 14) was TV archaeologist Julian Richards, known for his television appearances on Meet the Ancestors and Blood of the Vikings, who received an honorary degree from the university.
Also receiving special honorary degrees were Professor Sir Robert Burgess, former Vice Chancellor of the University of Leicester, who could not be present, and the Very Reverend Philip Buckler, Dean of Lincoln Cathedral, who will receive his degree at the Wednesday (July 15) morning ceremony.
Following the ceremonies, guests enjoyed strawberries and prosecco and a mobile bar in a Routemaster double-decker bus at the Longdales Road campus while being entertained by the university’s steel band and a jazz trio.
The procession is leading out pic.twitter.com/GTtreNCp02
— Bishop Grosseteste (@BGULincoln) July 14, 2015
First-class honours for husband and wife
Among those who graduated were a husband and wife who returned to study in their 40s.
Andy and Debbie Hicks combined studying at BGU 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.
Debbie enrolled at BGU to study Education Studies and History but after a year decided that she no longer wanted a career in teaching, so switched to the History and Theology joint degree course.
She said: “At the same time I found out that BGU offered a single honours degree in Theology. 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.”
“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.”
Debbie starts her new job next week as a community co-ordinator for the Royal Voluntary Service while Andy is also looking forward to a change in career path.
Staying on at BGU
Another graduate was 21-year-old Gemma Mills, who began her third year at BGU just seven weeks after the birth of her daughter Ella.
Originally from Peterborough, Gemma attended an open day at BGU after the first term had already begun and was persuaded by lecturer Viv Kerridge to join the BA (Hons) Drama in the Community course the following week.
In her second year Gemma discovered she was expecting her first child and since the birth of her daughter she has managed the full-time course with motherhood.
Gemma now has her sights set on a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) in Secondary Drama Education, which she will begin in September at BGU.
She said: “The encouragement I received from the university has been phenomenal, especially following the birth of my daughter last year. As well as a bursary to help my partner and me cope with the additional financial needs, I felt truly supported as I returned for my third year on schedule.”
A mother and daughter will graduate together on Wednesday, July 15 after completing their respective courses at the university.
Judith Coe, 46, will receive a merit for her Foundation Degree in Applied Studies (Early Childhood) and Hannah Coe, 23, will collect her Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE).
Two years ago Judith, a qualified nursery nurse, was running a series of childcare groups in Spilsby, East Lincolnshire, when she decided she wanted to invest in her career and develop her professional skills.
She said: “For two years I have managed to juggle family commitments, my job and my course. And now coming out the other side with my foundation degree, I feel much more confident in myself and am looking forward to developing my career further.”
Meanwhile Hannah is about to begin her first year as a qualified teacher following the completion of her PGCE in Primary Education.
She added: “I am so proud of Mum and all that she has achieved. How many people can say that they’re graduating at the same time as one of their parents?”