23 July 2013 10:55

Bryce Malton and Claire Hilton are both celebrating first class degrees on graduating from Lancaster University where they both met.

Both mature students from Grizedale College, their return to education has totally changed their lives.

Bryce said:“It’s been a great experience for me and I’ve had an utterly brilliant three years of my life – it’s been fantastic. It’s definitely changed my life for the better.”

Now aged 51, he left school at 18 and became an aircraft technician, working all over the world including the US and Iceland.

He worked his way up to a role as a  support manager in the aviation industry – but was told this job required a degree.

“I thought, I’ve had enough of nightshifts with no family life or social life, so I may as well do something I enjoyed. I had an attitude problem when I was 18 and left school with two poor A-levels and went to work, but now I feel I’m back on track. I did an Open University foundation course in science and then came to Lancaster University where I’ve been welcomed with open arms.

“At Lancaster you are treated as an individual and your past experience is taken into account.”

His degree in Earth and Environmental Science at the Lancaster Environment Centre included a Year Abroad, so he chose Iceland where he had previously worked.

“Whether in Iceland or at Lancaster, everyone has treated me as a student regardless of age so we’ve all got on and fitted in.

“It was a tough final year when I came back to Lancaster as my mother was diagnosed as terminally ill in the July and died in December.  However I have met my new partner, Claire, through the Mature Students Society and we now live together in Holme.”

With his partner Claire, 32, Bryce now faces a very different future. He plans to study for a PhD at Lancaster University while Claire works as a researcher at the University’s Spectrum Centre for Mental Health Research.

 “Coming to Lancaster University was a major life changing decision for me, and it has been a fantastic experience.

“I had previously been working in tourism, and had completed several Open University courses in Psychology, but coming to university full time provided me with a structured learning environment and has enabled me to gain a good degree. One of the most valuable and rewarding experiences for me was working part time at the Spectrum Centre for Mental Health Research while I was studying, where I have learned so much about applied psychological research. Another life changing experience was meeting Bryce in my first year.”