Hats off to mother and son! Family battle illness to graduate from university in same week

Reporter:

Steve Craddock

A MOTHER and son are celebrating after they graduated from university in the same week.

Thom Gordon, 30, and his mother Julia King, 58, both graduated from Glyndwr University just one day apart.

While Mr Gordon, of Chirk, graduated with a BSC (Hons) in architectural design and technology on Wednesday, he asked university staff if he could don his cap and gown once again to have a picture taken with his mother at her ceremony the next day.

Mrs King, of Cockshutt in Shropshire, who also has another son named Matthew, graduated with a BSC (Hons) in community health and wellbeing and now plans to do a postgraduate certificate.

She told the Leader: “I’ve not been to school for 30 or more years. I was left as a single parent when my boys were one and three and I had to do three jobs to pay the mortgage – so there was no way I could have gone to university even if I wanted to.

“I’ve done NVQs and did work my way up to management level in care but in 2012 my husband Colin had a heart attack and then my mum got cancer. It was too full on so I stopped doing care work and took on less stressful jobs.

“Thom told me I was wasting my brain and to go to university. I told him not to be ridiculous but he said there were older people than me there so I applied and they accepted.

“Now I am going to do my PGCE which will mean I can teach anyone over the age of 14. I’d like to pass on my skills in health and social care to them.”

Mrs King said along with the rest of her family, her husband Colin, now aged 55 and retired, and her mother Joan, aged 85, are over the moon about her and Thom’s success.

She said she’d definitely recommend university to potential students of all ages, adding: “I have enjoyed every minute of it, it has been fantastic and the university has been great.

“If you get the chance, don’t hesitate – do it.”

Mr Gordon, who has two children named Poppy-Eloise and Finlay, told the Leader: “It was quite an honour. I was proper proud of her.

“It was hard for me to go back into education after such a long period. Mum’s nearly 30 years older than me – and so for her to do it after the period of time she’s been out of an academic environment is quite an achievement.

“It only dawned on us on the day how nice it was that we were graduating so close together and that it must be a rare thing.”

The double graduation came about after Mr Gordon – who had an overactive thyroid gland – had to delay part of his final year after undergoing a total thyroidectomy.

Originally of Bognor Regis, Mr Gordon – who also had bilateral carpal tunnel decompression which meant he could not use his hands for several weeks earlier this year – said he was a “firm believer that everything happens for a reason” and that positive things can come from bad.

He added his 13-year-old daughter Poppy-Eloise, who attended the ceremonies, also met Wrexham mayor Cllr John Pritchard as she currently holds the title of junior miss Wrexham galaxy 2017/18 and is raising money for the Christie Cancer Charity.

Mr Gordon currently works for Apollo Taxis and will continue to focus on his business, TPG Architectural Design Ltd, which he formed with two friends during his studies.

Recently he also worked for Wrexham Council on a scale model of the Plas Madoc estate for a public meeting on renovation plans, and also filmed a video tour of the site.

l See our graduation picture special on page 15.

Email:

steve.craddock@nwn.co.uk

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