Lancaster University

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Octogenarian wins learning award

05/14/2004 11:59:41

A Lancaster University graduate and grandmother has been selected to receive a top award in recognition of her studies.

Dr Anne Parkinson, 87, of Barrow-in-Furness, was selected from hundreds of nominations to receive a Senior Learners Award. She is one of just nine regional award winners to be selected for the accolade.

The awards, run by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (Niace), are made to adults aged 50-plus to recognise their hard work and commitment to learning.

This week ( Monday, May 17) Dr Parkinson is set to travel to The Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster, London, to receive her award in a reception attended by the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, Charles Clarke.

Growing up in Barrow in the 1930s Mrs Parkinson missed out on educational opportunities. But once her family of nine flew the nest she made up for lost time studying local history and eventually writing a book entitled A History of Catholicism in the Furness Peninsula, 1127 - 1997.

Her next step was to complete a PhD at Lancaster University’s History Department, which she was awarded in 2003.

She is currently preparing her 100,000 plus-word dissertation - "Catholicism in Cumberland and Westmorland 1558-1829" - for publication.

Her nominator for the award, Lancaster University History Professor Michael Mullett, said: "While raising a large family, she retained a passion for history. Thanks to the enlightened admissions policy of the university, in later life she was able to proceed, through immense labour and courage, triumphantly to a research degree."

"She has undertaken a protracted and rigorous programme of study and research involving participation in advanced postgraduate seminars and conferences, extensive travel for research materials, frequent consultations with supervisors and the writing of a dissertation of 100,000-plus words."

Dr Parkinson said: " I have gained a considerable widening of perspectives and met many academics who have always been willing to share their knowledge, especially my supervisor, Professor Mullett."