Family celebrate graduation hat-trick

Released: Thursday 21st July 2011 at 10:27

SHE's only four-years, but Lydia Barr is already following in the footsteps of her mum and dad as she graduates from the University of Sunderland.

The youngster who attends the university's St Mary's Childcare Nursery donned a traditional gown and mortarboard, and received a certificate alongside her classmates at the annual mini graduation ceremony.

The proud moment came just days after her mum and dad, Faith and Josh Barr - who met, fell in love and married while both studying a social work degree at Sunderland - graduated alongside each other at the university's awards ceremonies at the Stadium of Light.

Lydia, who has been attending the award-winning nursery since 2007, was among a group of children of university students and staff, graduating from the pre-school after many happy years there.

And if it wasn't for the university's childcare provision, the fairytale romance between Josh, 22, and Faith, 24, may not have happened.

Faith explained: "I had an offer from another university to study the same course. In the end I chose Sunderland because I live in the area and the childcare provision was perfect for Lydia."

Josh, from Newton Aycliffe, added: "It's another very proud day for us all, seeing Lydia graduate just days after us was a special moment."

Nursery staff made gowns for the children, and the children helped to make their own caps for the occasion.

Susan Glendinning, Childcare Centre Manager, said: "Our children and staff have been planning the graduation ceremony for the last month during activity time within the nursery,

"Staff have brought in photographs of themselves graduating and have explained that the ceremony is a positive change which means the children are growing up and moving on."

Phil Marsh, the university's Director of Facilities, who presented the four-year-olds with their certificates said: "This is one of the best parts of the job, I always look forward to visiting St Mary's, the staff do an incredible job and I was honoured to be asked to present the children with their certificates."

He added: "The nursery is an important resource for the university. It allows parents the opportunity to access learning and employment in the knowledge that their children are in a safe, happy and stimulating environment. We wish the children all the best for the future."

St Mary's Childcare centre opened in 1990, and works with parents to provide high-quality education and care. They provide childcare from birth to 12 years of age, with the aim of improving the lives of those who work and study at the University of Sunderland, and the lives of their children.

The idea was the brainchild of the University of Sunderland Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Fidler. He said: "At Sunderland we pride ourselves on providing life-changing opportunities for all. The years these children have spent at St Mary's have given them a solid start to their educational lives, and hopefully one day we'll be welcoming them to as undergraduate students."

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