I don’t know if Grace can make it as she lives in Brighton and could well be working. Her graduation is the following week so her time could be very tight.
We’re very proud of her, she got a high 2:1 from University of Sussex. It is no small thanks to St. Mary’s and COSMIC that she has come so far.
She was wasting her time in her first year of 6th form college, skipping classes and missing deadlines for her A levels. The school were beginning to lose patience with her. When Amelia fell ill, we all spent a night thinking she wouldn't make it and 17 year old Grace had AS level exams that first morning after Amelia’s admission. She went to the exam room and wrote her name on the paper and nothing more, she couldn't write for the tears.
Two days later, Amelia remained critical and we were in a taxi on our way to see her. Grace was very down and just couldn't see how any A-level success she achieved would make a difference to the world. I recall her saying - “It’s not as if I'm going to be a doctor is it - I mean, look what they’re doing for Amelia, they’re incredible. My history A level isn't going to fix anybody, is it?” A lengthy discussion about little ripples in a big pond ensued; how even smiling at someone who you bump into could make a difference to someone’s day - it puts them in a good mood and they then go out and do something worthwhile….and so on. Grace finally got it. That day, she got it.
She was adamant that Amelia would pull through and firmly told us all that she would not hear any more negative talk about her niece’s outcome. She was going to be fine and that was that. From that day on, Grace knuckled down in her school work. She re-sat her exams the following October and passed them with high grades. In the December she was granted a monetary prize by her school governors for having turned herself round and achieving outstanding success while faced with real adversity. They knew the impact Amelia’s illness had on Grace and how it made her view school very differently. Grace also spent a little bit of time volunteering in the COSMIC office during school breaks.
And off she went to University after having gained 4 A’s and B’s at A-level. Oh yes, she did ALL the student stuff - lots of hairy scary tales no doubt, most of which Mum and Dad are not supposed to know about. But the pictures of her beautiful nieces and nephews have always adorned the walls of whatever student digs she’s lived in and she’s so grateful that she has ALL of them looking down on her from those smiley photos. The latest one is of 5 year old Amelia wearing her primary school uniform.
This May, Grace ran the BUPA 10k in central London - she took up running to alleviate the pain from a debilitating spinal condition she has, but it also helped to de-stress her while assembling her final dissertations. Naturally, COSMIC was her chosen charity she raised over £200 pounds from her student pals. “Not a lot of money really is it” someone said to her afterwards and she snapped their head off saying - “that £200 has paid for around 4 nights accommodation for the parents of a sick child and I for one know they’ll be very, very grateful!”
When I go to see Grace get her degree, I’ll feel very proud, knowing how hard she has worked for it. But I’ll be hard pushed to ever feel more proud than when I heard her say that. My daughter is made of the same gold nugget that all the Earls came from!
Today, the 23rd June is John’s 35th birthday, it is also 5 years to the day that Amelia was discharged from hospital! A very special and happy day, for always.
Grace with Amelia at the COSMIC Walk 2013