How school gates chat led mums on new path

Rebecca Saunders and Rachel Macrae became friendly doing the daily school run at Queensferry Primary with their kids. Picture: contributed
Rebecca Saunders and Rachel Macrae became friendly doing the daily school run at Queensferry Primary with their kids. Picture: contributed
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TWO mums who began an academic journey together after meeting at the school gates have graduated on the same day at Edinburgh Napier University.

Rebecca Saunders and Rachel Macrae became friendly doing the daily school run at Queensferry Primary with Rebecca’s son and Rachel’s daughter.

They discovered they had both applied to go back to college to do Highers in Human Biology and both had longer term plans to go university.

They studied together at weekends, sat their Higher exam on the same day, got their results on the same day and started at Edinburgh Napier on the same day.

Rebecca, 41, said: “We were like nervous children on our first day at school but it was good to know that we were not on our own as we stepped into the lecture theatre.”

They continued to support each other throughout their university careers as Rebecca pursued a degree in midwifery while Rachel studied one in child nursing.

Now, four years after their first meeting, they have completed their journey, graduating at the Usher Hall last week in front of the proud children – Owen and Isla, both ten – who brought them together.

Rebecca said: “They face the daunting task of heading to ‘big’ school next year, and we genuinely hope that seeing us graduate will inspire them for their futures, whatever they might hold.”

Rebecca’s graduation as Bachelor of Midwifery, her second degree after picking up a BA in Marketing with Business Organisation at Queen Margaret University College in 1998, is a particular source of pride given that she only discovered she was dyslexic after she had started the course.

She said: “I struggled all my life not knowing until an assessment at the university flagged it up. It felt like such a weight off. After all those years of just thinking I was ‘a bit thick’, I now know I’m not and will graduate with a distinction.”

Rachel, 39, a mum-of-three who had dropped out of an earlier degree, now has a BN in Nursing (Child Health), also with distinction.

She said: “I always felt lots of regret that I’d failed at uni first time around, so after a number of years as a stay-at-home mum and with the support of my family I am thrilled to graduate on the same day as Rebecca.”

Rachel has now started her first staff nurse post in Haematology/Oncology at the Sick Kids Hospital, while Rebecca is a staff midwife at the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy.

Meanwhile, a midwifery student from Morningside believes her experiences as a new mum helped develop her award-winning caring skills.

Ellen Pool, 32, received the Simon Pullin Award – an honour established by Edinburgh Napier to recognise the human side of nursing and midwifery – at her graduation ceremony.

The award was created in memory of senior nurse Simon Pullin, who played a key role in the university’s Compassionate Care Programme up until his death from cancer in July 2011.

newsen@edinburghnews.com