Stroke survivor overcomes disability to graduate

A mature student who studied part-time to complete a Foundation Degree in Funeral Services will graduate at the University of Bath’s winter ceremonies, despite suffering multiple strokes.

Sixty year-old Jacqui Bingham, from Bredbury, near Manchester, works for The Co-operative Funeralcare and signed up for the three year part time foundation degree level qualification to broaden her vision of funeral management.

Jacqui was already coping with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and mobility problems, when two months into her studies she endured three strokes within weeks of each other. She was left with further physical disability and cognitive problems. Jacqui said: “After the strokes a lot of people thought that I would have to give up the course. Over time the physical effects improved, but although I looked fine and sounded fine, I had hidden side effects.”

Jacqui worked with her tutors and Bath’s Student Disability Advice team to adapt her methods of learning, to allow for the after effects of the strokes on her cognitive function.

“There were points where it was so frustrating to be struggling with things that I had previously found easy, like goal setting and planning my work, but my tutors were brilliant at talking me through my difficulties and encouraging me to keep going.”

Jacqui will graduate on Wednesday 11 December at Bath Assembly Rooms, watched by her friend Carole Perry who supported her through her strokes. Speaking about the ceremony Jacqui said: “I feel very emotional to be graduating. Now that I’m reflecting back I’m starting to realise that I’ve done well to have carried on and persevered, but at the time I just felt I had to push myself forward.”

Dr John Troyer, Director of Studies for the Foundation Degree in the Centre for Death & Society, said: “All of the students on the Foundation Degree in Funeral Services worked extremely hard to reach today's graduation. Each of them overcame multiple obstacles while successfully progressing through the degree.

“Jacqui, in particular, showed unbelievable determination in finishing the degree despite multiple strokes and mobility and cognitive limitations. Her commitment to the Foundation Degree in the face of adversity and amazing personal development was inspiring. I am extremely proud of all the students and I know that they will help change funeral directing for the better.”

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