PROUD smiles adorned the faces of students, their families and tutors at the fourth graduation ceremony for University Campus Suffolk (UCS) Bury St Edmunds.

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On Saturday, 195 students received their awards at the ceremony at St Edmundsbury Cathedral in the town. Also, an Honorary Degree of Doctor of the University was awarded to Dame Stephanie Shirley DBE.

More than 900 people were expected to fill the cathedral for the occasion.

Speaking ahead of the ceremony, Dr Ann Williams, principal of West Suffolk College, which is where UCS Bury St Edmunds is based, said: “It’s the largest graduation we have ever had which is particularly exciting and I think the cathedral is going to be absolutely full which is a real tribute to the amount of higher education that’s taking place locally and within reach of local students.”

She added: “The other thing I think is important is, if you like, the profile of our higher education students is right across young students to mature students.

“Many of them are either in work, balancing work and families, and using this to improve their promotion chances and equally for others it’s just the first opportunity they have had to do higher education.”

Stephanie Page, from Great Saxham, who is the manager at Horringer Pre-School, is one of those graduates who has juggled work, a family and her degree.

The hard work certainly paid off as the 39-year-old, who was at the cathedral with her husband Alan and son Harry, has been named the winner of the Busy Bees Prize for outstanding student of the year on a children’s care, learning and development programme.

She said: “It’s such a big achievement for me and my family and, as I say, the local pre-school.”

Her husband said: “She’s worked extremely hard the past six years.”

Other prize winners included Ray Watson, 50, from Newmaket, who completed a Foundation degree in building services, Sarah Dawes, 44, from Thetford, who achieved a BA Honours in business management and Jill Cockman, from Bury, who now has a BSc Honours in psychology and sociology.

Thirteen students graduated with first class Honours degrees at UCS Bury St Edmunds this year.

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