10th July 2001




An unemployed St Giles couple with five children threw caution to the wind when they both enrolled on a full-time degree course at university.


Three years on their sacrifice and hard work will pay off when they graduate with honours degrees from the University of Lincolnshire & Humberside.


Simon McCaffrey (37) had to give up work as a manual labourer after he injured his back and his wife Sylvia (38) is dyslexic – but their problems did not deter them from signing up for a degree course as mature students.


Simon will graduate with a degree in Law at Lincoln Cathedral on Tuesday 17th July, two days before Sylvia picks up her Humanities degree at the same venue. Simon, of Lamb Gardens, Lincoln, says he would recommend the experience to anyone.


“We’ve been living on student loans and a dependents grant from the LEA,” he said.   “With five kids aged eight to 17 it’s not been easy, but to be honest it’s been no more difficult than it was when we were on benefits.


“We were both out of work, I was on the sick for a long time after I hurt my back and I thought the best thing I could do would be to get some kind of training. I assumed that with just two extremely poor O-levels there would be no chance whatsoever of being accepted at university, but I’ll be eternally grateful to the head of the Law Department at Lincoln because he gave me a chance to show what I can do.


“The university bent over backwards to help, both with Sylvia’s dyslexia and with my back injury. I don’t think we were a special case – I think they would have done the same for anyone.”


In September Simon will take up a place on a legal practice course in Sheffield and take the next step along the road to becoming a solicitor. “So many people don’t realise that the opportunity is there for them,” he says. “Some people criticise the university but I’m convinced that I would never have had this chance anywhere else.


“I’m delighted that I made the choice that I did. It was daunting, but it’s a decision that I’ve never regretted.”


Simon and Sylvia will be available for a photograph at the ceremony at Lincoln Cathedral on Thursday 19th July. For more information contact:

Jez Ashberry, Press and Media Relations Manager

University of Lincolnshire & Humberside

Tel: 01522 886042