A GRANDMOTHER from Douglas has overcome health problems to graduate with a degree in performing arts at the age of 67.
Millie Blenkinsop, who graduated from Northumbria University in Newcastle, thought she was too old to study a degree but wanted to take on the challenge.
Millie said: ‘I suddenly started to feel so bored of my life and I didn’t know what to do. I decided to do it because I wanted to have a bit of fun in my life.’
Despite suffering two mini-strokes, she put her ill health to one side to do the one thing she had always wanted.
She said: ‘Being a student at my age has been an incredible experience. Instead of worrying about my health as I had done in the past, I used to worry about having a big stroke and I constantly thought about death and how many years I had to live.
‘When I became a student I found I didn’t have time to think about my health. Education is wonderful therapy – I would recommend it for anyone my age.’
Millie, who runs the Lansdowne guesthouse in Douglas with her partner Graham French, paid for all her fees out of her life savings.
She said she could only do this because she doesn’t smoke and hardly ever drinks – and she insists the ‘experience was worth every penny’.
Being the eldest of five siblings Millie missed out on a lot of her education as she looked after her younger siblings. And her confidence was shattered at the age of 15 when she was asked by her auntie her what she wanted to do when she left school.
Millie revealed: ‘When I told her that I wanted to work as an actress she replied “don’t be so stupid”.
‘I was also told the only job for me was at the end of a conveyor belt in a factory. That’s why it meant so much to do this degree.’
Millie stayed in Newcastle, where she is originally from, during her full-time course and fitted in with her peers despite the fact she was a lot older than them.
She said: ‘I’ve made some friends for life. I didn’t worry about fitting in because I’m a people’s person. They always included me in whatever they were doing.’
A hurdle that she had to face was getting to grips with modern technology in using a computer to write up her assignments.
Millie said: ‘I only knew how to turn the computer on and read my emails! I didn’t even know how to reply to an email. Learning how to use the computer was a nightmare, but the library staff were so good with me.’
Millie is eager to pass on advice to others who have always wanted to do something but haven’t had the confidence.
‘You can have almost anything you want in this life,’ she said, adding: ‘It depends how much effort you are prepared to put in it to get it. Things don’t just come to you in life, you’ve got to go out there and get it yourself.’
She stated she wished somebody had told her those words when she was younger.
Millie, who had a lot of support from her partner during her course, is hoping to get some acting work since graduating and would love to work in a pantomime.