Sunday, 22 April 2012

The Open University: open to all

I stood at the side of the stage. A woman in a gown a bit like mine and a very cheery face whispered: 'Don't worry, you'll be fine.'
And then my name was read out, there was applause and I walked out across to the pro-vice chancellor of The Open University. He congratulated me as he shook my hand.

'Was it an enjoyable experience?' he said.

'Fantastic,' I said.

'What next?'

'I think I'm going to cry.'

'Ah, best not,' he said, as he squeezed my shoulder and sent me on my way.

There, in the audience, was my sister, my brother-in-law, my parents, my friend Pelly and Number One Son. And there in the aisle to greet me, camera in hand, was Mr Grigg.

'I'm so proud of you,' he said. 'Well done.'

And that nearly set me off again.

The audience fanned themselves with the OU programme, which gave details of the honorary degrees being conferred this year. Among the recipients are physicist, television presenter and former rock star Professor Brian Cox, singer Annie Lennox, photographer David Bailey, science fiction novelist Cory Doctorow, child-protection campaigner Sara Payne and sportswoman Dame Mary Peters.

And still they filed across the stage. Young and old, able bodied and not so able bodied. A man who looked like he was Edward and James Fox's older brother picked up an MA in art history. A woman with painted nails the length of Italy, a chief executive of a care home business and a music teacher who winced when the brass band hit a bum note collected BAs in English literature, nursing studies and modern languages.

A man with a long, blond pony tail and a guide dog, a young lady with a terribly long-winded name, several women with newly-cut bobs, a car salesman, a girl who looked little more than a child, someone's uncle, brother, father and someone else's mother, best friend and daughter picked up BScs in environmental studies, geoscience, information and communication technology, molecular science, mathematics and statistics and engineering.

There were shouts of: 'Well done Mum!' and whoops and hollering and posing for the cameras. There were tears, claps and wolf whistles.

And then a standing ovation from the graduates to their family and friends, without whom the long road to an OU qualification would not have been possible.

So here's to you. Take a bow.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x


  1. Congratulations! I'm about to graduate as well. What degree did you receive?

  2. Congratulations! Such an exciting day!

  3. Congratulations - you earned that!

  4. Congratulations!

    Good to meet you at the Dorset Voices launch in Bournemouth.

    Hope to see you in Corfu

    Jim and Maria

  5. Congratulations, very well done.

  6. Just reading your blog brought tears to my eyes - one of the best, most moving pieces you've ever written! Well done you on your degree and even 'weller' done on your blogging! Lucy

  7. Thanks for your kind comments. Lauren, I got a first class honours degree in humanities with creative writing. I can use the letters BA Hons (Open Hum) but don't think I will...
    I'm now researching my dissertation for a very intense MA in classics and ancient history. One of the craziest things I have ever done on a whim, but then that's another story. x

  8. Applause, applause to you who have earned the degree honors and to those who love each of you and who have helped make it possible!!!!!!!!!! Well done, Maddie!

    I too have happy tears in my eyes!


    1. I got mine in the post. Hons in six years. And I don't use the letters either - might spook my superiors into having a go themselves...

  9. Just read your blog. It brought tears to my eyes as well. I am just about to send in my final EMA for my degree in International Studies. Seven years of hard work are coming to an end - I can't quite believe it. Looking forward to my graduation day!
    Well done on your degree.


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